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All Things HIT

Nov 8 2011   4:25PM GMT

Reading tea leaves on the Health IT train!

Posted by: AllinHIT

For the record, I do not practice tasseography!  However, I do consider myself, as I put it, a “bottom line theorist”.  As a bottom line theorist, lets say I’m using “reading the tea leaves”, as synonym for the “acknowledging the obvious”.  Let me explain further. I am not specially trained in the practice and interpretation of divinatory skills, but the tea leaves are quite clear to me, the Health IT train has left the station.  The train will not, cannot, be stopped, as it needs to correlate to the rest of the electronic world. This is a bottom line theory, a theory whose results are inevitable, obviously going one way or another.  The “its not a matter of if, but when” cliche supports my bottom line theory, and I’m sure we all can agree the cliche also pertains to our industry. Matter of fact, we would also agree the Health IT train is not slowing down, but speeding up! 

This bottom line theory, the reading of the tea leaves, were two of my thoughts reflecting on a recently attended meeting and reading some recent surveys by Wolters Kluwer Health and Manhattan Research (subject of a forth-coming blog).  During the meeting, we had discussions on EHR’s ROI, adoption barriers, HIE’s, quality of care, privacy/breaches, HITECH, ACO’s, all great topics.  However, I was thinking its time to shift towards implementation and the “how to” versus the “should I” pertaining to technologies. Hence, I reminded these industry physicians, technologists, and other stakeholders in delivering care, to think past all the studies, surveys, and discussions.  Let’s read the tea leaves, and talk about moving this Health IT train.  I drew comparisons to the adoption of of PMS’s in the 80’s.  The concerns going from paper billing to EDI, were the same as today.  PMS adoption was slow, the concerns the same as today.  Cost, ROI, workflow changes, training, penalties (the stick), were barriers to entry.  Yet, physician adoption experienced a hockey stick effect, once CMS required it for Medicare billing! Additionally, scheduling patient appointments, managing collections, reconciling claims remittance, and automating reminders, had a positive effect on practices.    

Today, ask any physician or hospital, if they will go back to a front-end paper system for their practice or a hospital’s paper patient registration system, and paper billing (Not an exact comparison with hospitals, but you get my drift!).  What do you think the answer will be?  How will the pendulum sway towards physicians’ opinion on EHR’s 10 years from now?  How about consumer acceptance?  Do you think Gen X’ers and younger physicians, will be more comfortable, with electronic PHI, PHR’s, mobile health, analytics, EHR’s in waiting rooms, Kiosks, etc.?  Matter of fact, will they not require it?  Do you think privacy will more or less of a concern? (like they got privacy now with Facebook, four square, etc)?  The answers to all these questions are a matter of reading the obvious tea leaves.  What do you think?

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