Here’s the simple, modern day truth for physicians running a busy practice —You can’t do it all. The reality is that turbo-charged advancements in technology, combined with ever increasing regulations and rising patient expectations, have forever changed health care. The demands on your time are not going to decrease. So the new challenge becomes: How can you work with greater efficiency so you can focus on superior patient care while still running a growing and profitable practice? The answer, in short, is automation.
Webster’s defines automation as “the technique of making an apparatus, a process, or a system operate automatically.” In other words, what currently has to be done manually by you or your office staff can be done automatically or on-demand using new technology tools. These innovations not only dramatically enhance efficiency; they are also designed to improve patient engagement by proactively delivering communications that are timely and responsive to better meet their needs.
A closer look at the emerging trends both in and out of the health care space helps provide perspective on why this type of automation will soon become a necessity.
ADAPTING IN THE WIRED WORLD
Rapid advancements in technology are dramatically changing all aspects of society, particularly when it comes to how individuals navigate their daily lives.
Consider this: a January 2014 Pew Research Survey found that more than 90 percent of adults in the United States own a cell phone, 58 percent of which are smart phones with Internet access and other interactive capabilities. According to a recent Forbes Magazine article, there will be 20 billion personal electronic devices worldwide by 2020, translating to 10 connected devices per household. This unprecedented connectedness has dramatic implications for health care.
A September 2012 survey found that 72 percent of Internet users look up health and medical information on the Web — a number that has undoubtedly increased since. The Forbes Magazine article tells us that digital content is doubling every 18 months, and 90 percent of all data in existence today has been created in the last two years.
Accompanying this ready access to information is the increasing expectation from consumers that they should be able to get real-time answers and service, which is laying the groundwork for more dramatic change moving forward.
The article in Forbes Magazine detailed several tech-related health care trends that will soon impact how you interact with your patients and run your office. One such trend is the concept of “continuous health care,” in which information is shared in real time between caregivers to provide ongoing management of diseases and conditions. “Instant health care” is another trend that utilizes virtualization to provide patients with immediate care.
The Forbes article also highlighted the increased focus on “customized health care,” from which a more consumer centric model of health care is emerging that moves away from the one-size-fits all approach for patients. These trends promise to add to the complexity of our 24-7 digitally wired world.
AUTOMATION IS THE ANSWER
Accelerating the rate of change even more quickly for the medical field is the recently enacted Affordable Care Act (ACA). The benchmarks that the ACA includes for patient engagement and satisfaction levels are ones that will be difficult to achieve without incorporating technology that is designed to increase efficiency and improve provider-patient communication.
The focus must be placed on implementing more advanced management of your practice and patient relationships in order to succeed. In this fast-changing landscape, making these changes can only be accomplished through what is referred to as “automation technology.”
In the context of a medical practice, this type of technology allows for the ability to automatically handle, and in many instances enhance, a wide range of routine and administrative functions of your office. Automation technology can also lead to many other ongoing efficiencies, such as transitioning from paper medical files to electronically stored documents that can be more readily accessed by both medical professionals and patients. Until recently, much of the technology being used to improve practice management for medical offices has centered around electronic PM, EHR and EMR systems.
While these systems ...THERE WILL BE 20 BILLION PERSONAL ELECTRONIC DEVICES WORLDWIDE BY 2020 are essential for effective organization and storage of medical information, new apps and technologies are now available to leverage them even further through enhanced automation. By securely integrating with the majority of PM, EHR, and EMR systems, services that implement automation technology give your practice instant access to a wide range of features that significantly enhance efficiency while deepening patient engagement and communication.
Without a doubt, the truth is you can’t do it all in our increasingly connected and busy world. Yet, with the right approach to integrating new automated technologies into existing systems and processes, you don’t have to. You will be surprised about how drastically technology can improve your efficiency and increase opportunities to connect and communicate with your patients in convenient and meaningful ways.
Author: Amy LaVange, Manager of Marketing Communications