Technology is definitely changing the way physicians and other medical professionals are doing their jobs; however, many studies show while technology is rapidly changing, in most cases it seems to be well ahead of where physicians usually are. “Physicians are busy trying to maintain a clinical practice, are usually dealing with outdated technology, and have very little time to update it, or improve technology to improve patient care and make their practice more efficient. It’s an area that needs innovation and education,” said Dr. Paul Ogden, interim dean of medicine and interim VP for clinical affairs at Texas A&M.
Education — a keyword not frequently used by today’s healthcare professionals related to technology. We often discuss how good it is and the utilization benefits, noting the need to incorporate it immediately into our practices, but only briefly speak of training. The truths is, many physicians believe Electronic Health Record’s (EHR) are clunky and were developed mainly to ensure that medical practices handle coding properly for insurance company billing. Only as an afterthought, the mindset goes to adding patient records and many other day-to-day functions physicians use. (i.e. lab orders, print barcodes, dictation, etc.)
In a recent article, there were several reasons cited as to why practices are reluctant to adopt technology:
- Many new technologies don’t address the real problem
Tech entrepreneurs often take a backward approach to invention. They start by discovering a nifty technology, subsequently figuring out how users can utilize it.
- No one wants to pay for new technologies
Creating an innovative tool or app that can assist physicians and patients isn’t enough. In the decline of contractual payment amounts, practice overhead reduction is a priority. Anytime the purchase of new technology is discussed, it is regularly followed by the mantra “what’s in it for me?” Physicians will rarely spend before their return on investment (ROI) can be proven. In many cases, new technologies can result in reduced overhead, however, this calculation is primarily reliant on proper utilization and operational change. Without the purchase and utilization, the change does not take place. Without the change, the ROI is difficult to prove. Without a proven ROI, the decision to spend is null and void.
- Physicians are reluctant to show patients their medical information
Prior to the EHR, common wisdom was that physicians owned the medical information contained in a patient’s chart. This made sense at the time. With only one copy of the medical record on hand, the safest place for it was the chart room located in the back of the physician’s office. Many physicians believed it was necessary to keep this information out of the hands of patients. This belief was supported by the thought that sharing too much medical information with a non-licensed professional would lend to unnecessary worry promoting uneasiness in the patient/physician relationship. The world of the internet and Google access has changed the patient’s prospective on this. Physicians are still of the reluctant mindset.
- Technology slows down office operations
For the average physician, entering data into an EHR takes longer than keeping a paper record. The challenge isn’t solely the time it takes to type, but also the structured format of the data entry. In addition, any new process is slow at first. Without consistent practice, pace remains constant.
- Many physicians see technology as impersonal
Go ahead and ask a baby boomer physician, “What is personalized medical care?” The doctor is likely to talk about the importance of the human touch or about how subjective the “art of medicine” is. In today’s era of consumerism, if you ask patients to describe their definition of personalized medical care, they’ll talk about being able to decide how, when and where they obtain information and treatment — just like they do when they travel or buy retail products and services.
There are many pressing healthcare governmental deadlines. Two at the top of the list are the change to ICD-10 diagnosis codes (October 2015) and Meaningful Use Stage 2 (starting January 2015). According to the 2014 HIMSS Leadership Survey, seventy one (71%) percent of the 298 healthcare IT leaders who responded said they expect to be able to attest to Meaningful Use 2 compliance this year, and another nineteen (19%) percent expect to get there in 2015. The deadline for conversion of systems to support ICD-10 diagnosis codes is October 2015, as dictated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, however, only sixteen (16%) percent of respondents say that achieving this conversion is a priority for their organizations.
Clearly, a course on technology and the use within today’s healthcare environment is a must. Healthcare Technology Training has been pushed to the side for far too long. Do you think a short-term academy or training program would be beneficial to today’s healthcare providers? If offered, would you attend a 3 day event that taught about today’s technology in healthcare practices? How is your practice planning on staying at the forefront of technical change?