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Meaningful Health Care Informatics Blog

Dec 4 2012   7:56AM GMT

Health care technologies that can help independent physicians

Posted by: RedaChouffani
cloud, EHR systems, HIE, SaaS, smartphones, tablets, voice recognition

A recent study performed by Accenture provided evidence that the number of private practices and independent physicians is continuing on its decreasing trend.

The study cites that 87% of the survey recipients noted that business expenses are one of the driving reasons to elect to join larger hospital systems and integrated delivery networks (IDNs). Prevalence of managed care and EHR requirements were two other concerns reported by a majority of respondents.

Many of the new health IT innovations will likely provide for a great opportunity for physicians to realize more cost savings and improved efficiencies, as the results of this research and current technology trends are reviewed.

The following are some of the areas that will have a positive impact on independent physicians and help reduce some of the challenges they face:

The cloud: The cloud is significantly  reducing the upfront investment costs needed for the technology infrastructure. Shifting the traditional client server on premises to a subscription based service, and in some cases software as a service (SaaS), is eliminating the complexity of implementing and maintaining the infrastructure.

Clinical Support Systems: More and more EHR vendors are providing powerful clinical support systems that provide physicians with assistance while diagnosing patients. Physicians are discovering significant values, as these tool continue to advance

Voice recognition: Voice recognition has significantly increased in accuracy. The new possibilities that are available due to the tight integration with some of the EHR products are what makes the technology a much more attractive and viable alternative to typing. Many vendors are now ensuring that what is spoken into the microphone is converted into discrete data that is populated into the medical record easily without too many clicks or extra manual data entry or transcription costs.

Smart phones and tablets: Whether the device is 4 inches, 7 inches or a full 10-inch tablet, many of the early adopters have seen tremendous value with these devices. The easy to use interfaces and long battery life are factors which favor today’s tablets as an alternative to laptops. Tablets outsold PCs for the first time, a clear sign of the adoption rate. Also, smartphones with high speed Internet have become widely used by patients. This provides endless possibilities for instant access to the care team. Vitals can be transmitted and other data can be accessed via mobile devices. Many of these gadgets will help enable better communication, improved methods of data usage, as well as better care.

HIE: Today it can be very challenging to electronically collaborate on patient care as well as access medical records from different health systems. For most physicians affiliated with or employed by hospitals, this task can be easily be achieved with the internal systems these organizations have in place. The costs associated with participating with an HIE, as well as having a product with HIE connectivity, can create unnecessary obstacles for independent physicians and increase costs of exchanging data. Costs of adoption will drop as more HIEs are deployed at state and regional levels.

Technology will continue to provide the appropriate tools that will help drive efficiency, improve patient care, and lower costs. The right technology will provide tangible results and enable physicians to easily adapt and be rewarded. There is a continuous flow of disruptive solutions that are being introduced that keep changing the way to communicate, collaborate, as well as care for patients. There are still technologies that are beneficially to the shrinking number of independent physicians.

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