Low-friction Technology

MDNG Primary Care, April 2009, Volume 11, Issue 4

In these difficult economic times, every little step and adjustment to increase efficiency can have an effect on the financial health of your practice.

In these difficult economic times, every little step and adjustment to increase efficiency can have an effect on the financial health of your practice. Although their makers would have you believe otherwise, too often, many of the technology resources that promise to save time, increase efficiency, and improve productivity in fact have the opposite effect, at least in the short term. Cumbersome user interfaces, laborious data capture processes, arcane operating procedures, and a host of other design “features” often mean that big-ticket health IT solutions like full-featured EHRs and e-prescribing systems create immense workflow disruptions, increase inefficiency until staff catch up to the learning curve, and ultimately reduce productivity (potentially resulting in less face time with patients and loss of revenue).

That worst-case scenario doesn’t always hold true, however, especially in the case of low-friction tech applications and solutions like the ones profiled in this issue. I call them “low-friction” because they can be put in place with minimal effort and often produce surprisingly little “heat” (frustration, despair, and disruption). This is technology the way it’s supposed to be: low risk, low effort, and high reward. I’m talking about simple-to-use software and applications that can help you solve real, everyday challenges and simply get things done smarter and more efficiently, to borrow a phrase from the excellent Lifehacker.com (which, if you have never visited, you should do post haste). Online forms are one good example. MDNG Healthcare IT Advisory Board member Steven Zuckerman, MD, explains how you can easily create your own online forms for your practice and “turn information into knowledge.” And, as Dr. Z points out, you can do this using a program you most likely already use every day. He even went to the trouble of creating a video tutorial (available at HCPLive.com) for the visual learners among us. If you download a couple other simple programs, with just a little more effort, says the good doctor, you can create fairly complicated “intelligent” forms and templates that you can put to good use in a variety of ways in your practice; you can even create forms that will allow you to easily capture PQRI data and earn that 2% bonus. Now, that’s low-friction technology at its finest.

What other tips, tricks, how-tos, downloads, advice, and tutorials will you find in this issue? Turn the page and find out. We also invite you to visit HCPLive.com and share your own stories about how you’ve brought technology into practice in unique and unexpected ways. We look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you for reading.

Mike Hennessy