Using Technology to Build an Integrated Practice #4 of 6
See how the fully-automated private practice can improve patient engagement & outcomes.
The fourth blog in a 6-part series
According to a survey conducted by The Physicians Foundation1 to more than 17,000 physicians nationwide, physicians spend 21% of their time engaged in non-clinical paperwork. Given a workforce of approximately 800,000 physicians in active patient care, this equates to 168,000 physician FTEs not engaged in clinical activities.
Additionally, due to rising regulatory burdens and the growing demand for their services, 80% of the responding physicians indicate they are overextended or at capacity, with no time to see additional patients. You may ask, what are the other 20% doing correctly? Only 14% of the 80% say they have the time needed to provide the highest standards of care. Given that a majority of physicians are at or over capacity, it’s not surprising that 72% feel that external factors such as third-party authorizations and higher deductibles significantly detract from providing quality of care. These factors have a profound impact on how care is delivered and received.
But how can the independent practice compete with the resources of hospitals and large health systems? A technology-enabled, integrated practice is key to solve the physician burnout and patient engagement dilemmas.
The Importance of Implementing Technology
Today the most successful and profitable independent practices rest on a foundation of office technology that allows them to work more efficiently, maintain a better work/life balance, grow their practice, reduce errors and provide an excellent patient experience.
From patient care to management of your medical practice, innovation in technology continues to prove its worth in all aspects of healthcare. As stated in Forbes,2 technology will continue to shape and change the business of healthcare both in day-to-day duties and overall patient care. Technology has worked to improve the medical field, but without a complete understanding of the integration of these technologies into a healthcare system, the value of these innovations is diminished. It’s crucial to stay up-to-date on available tools to most effectively advance your independent practice. The responsibility of implementing new technologies into your practice often falls on the office manager. Available technologies can be expensive, and the money and effort spent on acquiring these tools can go to waste if your office manager, and healthcare provider(s) alike, lack adequate comprehension of their application or value.
The types of technologies that prove to significantly improve independent practices are becoming more readily accessible and affordable. Many have found that each of these areas have an important role to play in every element of practice success.
Let’s take a look at the fourth building block of integrated technologies that go into the fully-automated independent practice that will help you better manage your time and improve patient engagement and practice outcomes:
Consumers are interested in more convenient access to healthcare; in fact, it may even override their loyalty. As shown in a recent American Well study, most of the 4,100 consumers say they want their doctor to provide telehealth technology.4 Some will even switch providers to get Internet video service. “Most (patients) say they are ready for telehealth technology and are actively seeking it out, and 20 percent said they would switch their current doctor for one who offered telehealth services. Among survey respondents with a primary care physician, 65 percent said they are interested in seeing them over video. For people with children, that number gets even higher – 74 percent said they would like to see their doctor through telehealth.”3
Virtual technology is an affordable, efficient way to grow your practice and improve your model of care without adding much overhead. Each provider’s time can be used more efficiently to see more patients each day. Telemedicine allows a patient’s condition to be monitored and evaluated from the convenience of your office or home and the patient’s home. Telemedicine has evolved to become an increasingly important part of the healthcare infrastructure. Practices that adopt telemedicine are able to grow revenue, cut costs and provide a convenient cost-effective approach for patients.
Telemedicine should fully integrate with your EHR to give you the tools to quickly and easily evaluate, diagnose and treat patients. Through still images or high-resolution video conference, the secure, HIPAA-compliant Internet connection should save to patient files.
Telemedicine is beneficial for acute care visits and providing care to patients in rural areas, terminally ill patients, or those who have difficulty traveling, such as elderly patients. But don’t rule out chronic conditions as well. According to the same American Well study, “Consumers also see many applications for telehealth, beyond common afflictions like a rash, cold or sore throat. Of those surveyed, 60 percent said they would be willing to have online video visits with a doctor for regular check-ins about a chronic condition such as diabetes or heart disease.”
According to the Health Resources and Services Administration,5 “In general, (telemedicine) can be thought of as a way of increasing the contact between a patient and the medical system. It can bring additional expertise to consult on a case, reach out to patients when they’re at home or save travel time and expense for both practitioners and patients. Telemedicine shows great potential for advancing preventative medicine and the treatment of chronic conditions.”
Fears about payer telemedicine reimbursement should not keep you from embracing telemedicine as a new channel of care. The best insurances offer payer reimbursement verification for each scheduled encounter, plus there’s the option of cash payment or swiping a credit card before its use. Embracing new technology can be a bit uncomfortable, but these days telemedicine is necessary to stay competitive and to provide patients with easier and higher quality care and reducing their secondary healthcare costs, such as time away from work, transportation expenses and childcare costs. Additionally, it increases the chance that patients will comply with follow-up instructions and achieve desired health outcomes.
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- The Physicians Foundation. 2016 Survey of America’s Physicians Practice Patterns & Perspective, September 21, 2016.
- Lee, Ellen. 5 Ways Technology is Transforming Health Care, January 24, 2013.
- HIMSS Dictionary of Healthcare Information Technology Terms, Acronyms and Organizations, 2nd Edition, 2010, Appendix B, p190, original source: Wikipedia.
- Mack, Heather. American Well survey. mobihealthnews, January 23, 2017.
- Health Resources & Services Administration, What is Telehealth?, 2016.