This month's Most Valuable Physician in Healthcare Technology.
How do you bring healthcare technology into your practice?
Technology is best introduced with patience and in a very systematic, measured fashion. Too many disruptions to a practice can have a catastrophic effect, not only on the bottom line, but on the willingness to move forward with other technologies. A “physician champion” is vital to any successful technology implementation and should be responsible for “test-driving” each aspect of any new technology solution. I joined a practice with a great deal of vision but no technology intuition. The first small step was to demonstrate cost savings and improved turn-around time through digital dictation. This simple initial success promoted confidence in technology and fueled the appetite for the fully paperless practice we have today.
What technologies do you utilize in your daily practice?
Text messaging and access to e-mail from handheld devices have made communications more efficient. The days of alpha-numeric paging on one-way devices are numbered. If you’re not versed in the benefits of text messaging, most 12-year-olds can teach you more than you’ll need to know! In the office, voice recognition for limited aspects of documentation has led to increased efficiency and productivity. When accessing our EMR remotely, SSL (learn more) access is a nice complement to VPN connections, which can be cumbersome or infeasible from within secure hospital networks.
What is the most significant recent development in healthcare technology for practicing physicians?
Web-based EMR applications, which allow physicians access to patient data from virtually anywhere, have revolutionized the practice of medicine. Not only are we able to provide better care to our patients through rapid response to refill request and result notification, physicians can also avoid costly duplication of tests, make more informed decisions, and limit liabilities. With the insatiable demand for instant information in our culture, medical practices will not be spared much longer. And don’t underestimate the lifestyle benefits—I hear time and again from physicians how they are leaving the office earlier with the help of efficient IT solutions!
What technological advancement do you foresee having the greatest impact on physicians in the near future?
Although realistically a few years away, industry standards for interconnectivity HITSP (Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel) will allow physicians to create electronic records faster while integrating a multitude of external information and data. “Digital paper” may offer a reasonable option for the less technologically proficient providers and can help patients enter historical data without computer interaction.
Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
A successful technology implementation will not only save time and money, it has a proven return on investment if utilized to its potential. However, uninformed purchases and unrealistic expectations can be financially devastating to groups. Understand what aspects of your practice you wish to enhance and seek a product that has been proven to provide that solution in a similar practice setting. Never purchase a product based on a vendor’s promise to develop a solution—make the investment in the technology as it stands today. A “one size fits all” option, such as a hospital-based solution, is unlikely to work in a single or multi-specialty model since the needs and work-flow are very different. Take the time to visit a similar practice currently utilizing a product before you make an investment. You wouldn’t buy a car without driving it first!