Posted by: RedaChouffani
EHR implementation, Health information exchange, HIE, integration, Interoperability and health information exchange, Physician groups
Many specialists and independent health care providers affiliated with a local hospital system have already been solicited to come onboard and integrate with the larger organization’s EHR system, as well as utilize their IT resources to support services. This type of integration would allow them to take full advantage of one single chart per community, per patient. And as we continue to see the importance of health information exchange, both in terms of quality of care as well as federal mandates and compliance, for a small physician practice, being connected to the hospital system can mean direct connectivity to a state or regional HIE.
From a financial standponit, for some of the smaller size practices, this can also mean more purchasing and negotiation power when engaging in relationships with the large systems. However, these value add propositions are still not convincing enough for private practices just yet. Some have continued to stay independent and maintained their profitability despite the bigger competition.
But the reality is that there is no simple answer to whether joining a large health care system will boost profitability and improve care for the patient or not. From one perspective, you have the hospital who can convince practices to use its system and can provide a value add to both practices and consumers (patients) by having one central location for all their health data. On the other hand, many of the private practices continue to face high costs from implementing these new technologies and infrastructure upgrades, and must continually look for ways to reduce their up front costs as they move toward becoming paperless.
This cost/benefit analysis is not anything new, though, and as we continue to see different reform initiatives and new mandates, health care systems and private physician practices will continue to cross paths and evaluate and redefine their relationships. And in just these recent years, ACOs have been one subject of discussion, as everyone is wondering what it will all mean to them from not only from a technology perspective, but also distribution of savings or payments. Only time will tell.