Technology fuels physicians’ success

September 30, 2014 in Medical Technology

Physicians are becoming a more empowered link in the healthcare chain, due in large part to their adoption and deployment of information technology, IT specialists serving the sector say.

By utilizing cloud technology, adopting electronic health records and embracing the benefits of automation, physicians are asserting themselves as leaders in accountable care organizations, ICD-10 adoption, meaningful use implementation and provider-patient relations.

“Some are better than others – it depends on whether the practice is owned by a health system or not,” says Zach Wilson, Healthcare IT president for Jacksonville, Fla.-based CSI Healthcare IT. “The ones that are owned are generally a step ahead.”

The physician technology revolution lies within the development, deployment and utilization of electronic health records. As more clinics across the country adopt EHRs, they are finding that the technology dovetails nicely with other systems, enabling data management for population health, establishment of patient portals, medication tracking and electronic prescribing among other things, Wilson says.

“Together, all of those things are making physicians’ lives easier and giving them more time to spend with their patients,” he said.

One area where the sector needs a jump-start is with ICD-10 conversion, Wilson says. Ironically, he contends the one-year delay to October 2015 may have actually slowed down the process in the physician environment.

“Physicians are further behind without a doubt,” he said. “A lot of people had hoped for the delay, but from my perspective it is not something they should have waited for. They were just starting to get going with it at the end of last year and as a result of the delay, many are taking their foot off the gas. I imagine that it will get hot again at the end of the year.”

Docs ‘paying attention’

While the physician community is making strides with technology adoption, Jen Polello, principal consultant with Burlington, Mass.-based Arcadia Healthcare Solutions, contends that it is mainly borne by necessity rather than pure desire.

“As the industry moves away from the fee-for-service model and into the world of quality reporting, physicians are embracing technology because they realize it is a necessity,” she said. “They are now paying attention to workflow design and capturing data in a meaningful and timely way. They realize it makes sense from a clinical and business standpoint.”

Polello agrees that technology is empowering physicians as they assert a more dominant role in the healthcare continuum, notably with the formation of accountable care organizations. By serving as caretakers of personal health information, she says they are in a position to direct ACOs and control relationships with provider partners.

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