The future of medicine is exciting. Sure, in its current state the healthcare industry is woefully behind the technological curve and the reasons for that are manifold: security concerns, barriers to interoperability. But changes are imminent. A recent poll by Kaiser indicates that 80% of Americans believe that having a portable online healthcare record is “extremely important.” As the patient-as-consumer continues to rise, so, too will the demand for innovations in healthcare technology that match the advances of other industries.
Another impetus for a technological overhaul in healthcare is the industry-wide shift to value-based care. Driven by the desire to reduce costs and improve quality and outcomes, all employers, health plans, government payers, and consumers now require the healthcare system to deliver on proven value. Physicians are now expected to deliver value into the healthcare system. What does this all mean? That physicians will soon have no choice but to reckon with technological innovations in order to track their patient populations. Our reimbursements increasingly depend on our ability to do so.
For many doctors, myself included, the prospect of such change is intimidating. Healthcare technology is often cumbersome, complicated and stress-inducing. What’s the best way to cope? You could go it alone, by purchasing an EMR. Unless you’re a tech-guru, however, you’ll be stymied or confused at some point attempting to use it by yourself. Or, you could align yourself with a partner to help you not only manage technological changes, but help you stay ahead of the curve.
My humble recommendation? Choose an agile partner that allows you to keep up with tech innovations, particularly those developing in population health management. The best partners are those with their finger on the pulse of the healthcare industry who can help you think ahead and prepare for changes that are projected to occur over the next five to ten years. As with other industries, so with medicine; the one who uses technology the most efficiently is the one who succeeds. And just like every other facet of our personal and professional lives, technology isn’t going away.
Now that I have a partner, technology has, paradoxically, fostered intimacy between myself and my patients. They appreciate that the portal that I use now allows them to contact me after-hours. They’re also delighted at how they can schedule an appointment on their mobile devices without having to call in. Because contacting me is easier, they’re happier when they see me during in-person appointments.
Most importantly, I can practice the kind of population health management that is necessary for thriving in an era of value-based-care. One of the problems that I’ve noticed while practicing medicine for 29 years is that, because it’s an apprenticeship model, physicians work anecdotally and don’t rely on data to make decisions as much as we ought to for a profession that is grounded in science. Technology has allowed me to clearly track and appropriately respond to trends in my patient population that I otherwise would have been oblivious to. Now, I have more intelligent conversations with my patients because I can tell them why I’m treating them in a particular way. Gradually, they’re becoming not only happier, but healthier.
In the future, I foresee the use of personalized genomics becoming widespread, as well as the use of artificial intelligence in medicine, à la Watson. But perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself. For now, I’ll use technology, with the help of my partner, to do what I know how to do best: promote healthy, satisfied patients.
To learn more about Privia Medical Group, or to speak with a director of physician development who can evaluate your practice’s preparedness for the new technology-based world of value-based-care, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.