In the history of healthcare information technology (HIT), there is clear evidence that technology systems have been designed to provide individual solutions, instead of considering a provider’s workflow holistically. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, practice management (PM) systems offered medical practices the opportunity to automate their day-to-day operations. Then the electronic health record (EHR) became mainstream in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, to electronically store patient health information in a single location. Meaningful use pushed the concept of EHR further, but unfortunately, EHR was not connected to back-office PM systems, preventing data flow. EHRs were adopted to allow physicians to document care they provide as required by the constantly changing regulations, with no consideration of workflow optimization. Next came patient engagement products, also created separately from both PM and EHR, adding another disconnected layer of technology for practices to manage.
Breaking down the technology silos
Over the years, I have seen how a lack of integrated HIT workflow has increased frustration for independent medical practices and their patients. It’s tough for providers to be productive, retain patients and grow their revenue when they’ve had to rely on technology that was neither fully integrated within the office workflow nor designed with their needs in mind. Many practices still manually enter data into multiple applications, and I’ve heard their complaints about wasted time and the increased risk of human error.
This situation isn’t necessarily the fault of the providers. I’ve encountered many medical practices that have tried to make better use of technology, only to be stuck with cookie-cutter templates, unable to customize notes based on their practice size or specialty, and little or no training on the new systems. The result? Practices are underutilizing healthcare technology, impacting their ability to provide coordinated, efficient care. And on the business side, there is often little or no return on their technology investment.
What providers need is complete automation of everything that could be automated in clinical, patient and billing systems. When providers don’t need to spend so much time documenting what they have done for regulatory and billing purposes, they can increase their time with patients. Reduced time spent on signing-in to separate platform units also increases the office non-clinical staff’s efficiency. In the end, both practices and patients benefit.
Continue reading to see how automation and integration disrupts the status quo.
Story and photo courtesy of HIT Consultant, July 30, 2018.