Information Technology has truly revolutionized the way healthcare is delivered to patients nationwide. Physicians, hospitals, healthcare centers and other associated services are all using some sort of IT infrastructure in order to provide better care, cut costs and improve patient experience.
IT promises a bright future for the industry as well but there are some hindrances. The ability of various systems adopted by healthcare professionals to meaningfully interact with each other seamlessly remains an area of concern. In a country where nearly 75% of physicians are using information technology in their practice, this is a huge problem. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are being spent on developing better, newer and simpler systems but the end users, physicians, are finding it increasingly difficult to contain the flow of information and the unlimited data they are generating.
Much depends on how the physicians nationwide are adopting these technologies. For the moment, it looks they are being forced into adopting these systems through government regulations and by providing lucrative incentives. But once the technology is put to use, many physicians regularly complain about their systems not being efficient and the complexity of their usage. Although many EHR vendors provide after sales support and continuous trainings about their products, the fact of the matter is, most of the physicians are not very tech-savvy and struggle to cope up with technology.
However, if the healthcare IT revolution is going to take place after all, it will be through the physicians themselves. The sooner they embrace the technology and start using it the way it is supposed to, many of the problem areas will be addressed. At the moment, they are struggling to cut down costs and some are even seeing a decline in their Meaningful Use incentive rate after first year’s usage.
EHR replacement will be the new way forward if the physicians’ want to get the most out of their systems. They need to replace their costly, inefficient and useless systems with more economical, performance-driven and highly efficient EHR which will not only help them improve patient satisfaction, but also enable them to achieve better quality and efficiency.
Doctors used to believe in ‘quality never gets you paid more’ idiom but that is changing rapidly with newer and better regulations from the government. With the implementation of Meaningful Use Stage 2, physicians are being required to focus more on quality treatment of patients and reporting of certain quality benchmarks. This is certainly going to create more awareness amongst the physicians to focus on quality and qualify for incentive payments from the government.
For those who have not yet adopted healthcare IT, now is the time do so. There is still some leverage from the government in order to adapt to newer technologies which will not only enable the physicians to qualify for Meaningful Use Stage 2, but also able to adopt ICD-10, which in itself is a huge task.
As far as usage of these technologies is concerned, physicians may have some substance when it comes to their usability. EHR systems need to be made as simple as writing a prescription by hand. Only then 100% physicians across US will be on the same bandwagon. That era might still be a few years away, but it is certainly not impossible.
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