The point of healthcare technology is to close the gap between quality, cost and access. As we have said before, EMRs don’t close the gap, but they are a very necessary piece to closing the gap. However, a gap still exists between the information in an EMR and the information a clinician needs in the EMR. Technology must provide solutions that have little or no learning curve to avoid eating up physician’s time. Simply stated – technology must allow those who focus on providing healthcare to devote as much time as possible to providing it by creating solutions that solve problems the way the user wants it solved.
For this reason it seems reasonable to assume that (1) cloud technology, (2) digital dictation and (3) HIEs have a strong future ahead of them. Why pick these three solutions as the up-and-comers in healthcare – Because they help clinical workflows instead of hindering them.
The draw to cloud technology is simple – it improves patient outcomes and comes with a price tag far lower than other IT endeavors by placing the burden of migration and management upon the cloud provider instead of an organization’s infrastructure. The result, according to Dave Wilson, allows “hospitals to get back to their primary intent of business – patient care.” This would explain the high rate of adoption amongst providers (30%) and the abundance of offerings by vendors.
Cloud technology is poised to be the blow out solution for healthcare providers, because numerous other key healthcare solutions, such as EMRs, diagnostic imaging, clinical informatics, HIEs, digital dictation and pathology are all looking to cloud technology to maximize their impact. Cloud technology can do this by eliminating the number of steps it takes to get data from one place to another. By minimizing these steps, physicians and organizations can maximize efficiencies.
This topic will be explored more in the second blog in this series: “Why are Cloud Technologies Leaping to the Top?”
Any way you slice and dice it, data entry is a process that requires time and is labor intensive. It opens the door to human errors, time delays and, in some cases, data limitations. Digital dictation is fast, easy and requires no “learning time” from physicians. Software solutions that can gather and transfer the necessary data for reporting, coding and billing will help providers save time and money by minimizing the efforts required to get data into the EMR.
How much time does digital dictation save? Stefan Herm from Nuance Healthcare stated, “Editing speech-recognized documents is up to three times faster than manual transcription and thus frees up time for patient care”. On top of time savings, the files can be easily stored and uploaded to a hard drive and can improve patient safety. Digital dictation has emerged a way to minimize errors by improving record-keeping, streamlining procedures and minimizing the lag time it takes to get information to staff.
There is a reason why the healthcare industry embraced Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) with open arms as a solution improve care safety and quality. According to Health Affairs, there are 2,000 hospitals and over 41,000 physicians that have met the set standards for achieving “meaningful use” of HIT. HIEs provide a way to ensure that personal health information is available anytime and anywhere it’s needed. However, some hospitals poo-pooh the idea of sharing information freely with one another. After all, this is a capitalistic society where businesses calculate their next move based on dollars – and sharing information freely means that patients have no reason be loyal or “frequent flyers” to certain facilities.
Bill Crounse, M.D. from Microsoft, proposed a way to work around the reluctance to sharing information from providers by “aggregating personal health data round the patient, and allowing the patient to share his or her data with whoever needs to see it.” This solution would require cloud technology that allowed patients to be in control of PHI held by their providers and payors. The patient would then be responsible for transferring their data to their new provider – taking the cumbersome burden and responsibility off of the already bogged down providers.
This topic will be explored more in blog 3 of this series: “Will Patient based HIEs Dominate the Future?”
While the changes in healthcare are exciting, they are also taxing. Keeping up with the changes is imperative to the success of organizations. To do this, organizations must be committed to getting the biggest bang for their buck. Why these technologies are the right ones to invest in will be further explored in the rest of this series. Stay tuned!