Real Practice Management Will Require New Thinking
Twenty-five years ago, patient records and hospital management systems were almost all paper-based, and filing cabinets filled entire rooms and basements. The healthcare system was ready for a digital overhaul.
Fast-forward to the present, and healthcare management systems are software-based, and patient records have been digitized. It’s a big improvement over stacks of paperwork piling up in every corner, but unfortunately, there’s still a lot of work to be done. We’re still a long way from having a healthcare system that is connected, efficient and able to add value for all doctors, administrators and patients.
Too many electronic medical record systems fail to be truly interoperable, which means they are not accessible enough to doctors who work in different facilities. When a patient goes from a hospital to a clinic — or when a patient is travelling, and must seek medical care from another provider far from home — that patient’s record is not always easy to share from one physician to another.
Another problem with electronic health records is that they are not fully controlled by the patient.
When it comes to the new digital systems being used to manage health networks and hospitals, these are also failing to live up to their full potential. Too often, healthcare facilities rely on software alone to bring efficiency to their organizations. But healthcare delivery is far too complex to be handled by software alone.
Doctors, administrators and patients are still dissatisfied with the healthcare system, and technology is a part of the problem.
There are hundreds of companies with software to manage operations in healthcare or make patient records easier to share, and after a while, their elevator pitches all sound the same. Hundreds of companies want to deliver essentially the same thing to the same people at the same time.
It won’t be a surprise if investors in the healthcare IT space begin tuning it all out. Some companies they have funded have gone under, because the whole sector has become crowded and noisy.
And through it all, doctors, patients and administrators are still frustrated. It’s obviously time to think differently.
We need technology that puts the patient in control of their own healthcare. This is the way we will arrive at a system that will work better for everyone.
Many people in the U.S. prefer to see a physician who is in independent practice, because they want the personal touch that the larger health systems do not offer. Software-based practice management systems are only built for larger health systems, so they are leaving out a significant number of doctors and patients.
There are dozens or hundreds of competing software systems on the market, but too few are designed with the actual users — patients and doctors — at the center of the equation.
Back in the 90s, when the race to build personal computers and software was heating up, companies like Microsoft and Google pulled to the front by designing products that are intuitive and easy to use for the consumer.
We are still waiting for that moment to arrive in healthcare.
The way we will know it has arrived is when we see health records that are controlled by the patient, and management systems that include the independent physician.
Read more stories by Dr. Adam Tabriz here.