The Physician’s Dilemma: Is Technology Helping So Far?

Abhinav Shashank
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Technology was always meant to empower healthcare practices; action needs to be taken where it is causing more harm than good. Aiming for a single goal of better population health, we need a technology that understands value-based care, is humane to the providers and care teams, and acts as a reliable source of decision-making for the leadership. 

Isn’t it time we burst the bubble and resolve the problems of provider care teams to create a sustainable central solution and bridge the “hope-reality” gap?

How Is Old Tech Caging the Provider Care Team?

Being a physician, I wanted to make a difference in the lives of people. But, most part of my day is spent entering details into my system and documenting health records. I hardly get time to even look at my patients, let alone interacting with them,” said a California-based physician.

We expect providers to address many responsibilities outside their professional expertise and expectations. The clerical work for providers even drags outside the clinical hours, greatly intervening with their work-life balance. When asked about how technology can help them with their struggle, the majority of doctors wish they had tech that could save their time for directly healing patients. 

Even though tech has been intended to assist us in our care delivery, we end up assisting and feeding the tech instead. If I have 10 minutes with my patient, I would like the tech to take up the redundant tasks like scrolling through the patient details and documentation that eats up about 7 precious minutes,” remarked another clinician based out of Connecticut.

Providers have to endlessly scroll for patient data, and there is no way to pull up the relevant information to the doctor’s attention. This brings in a compelling need to gather data in one place and highlight the point-of-care details in the valuable moments of the appointment. 

Before I prescribe medication, the insurance eligibility has to be verified beforehand. Scanning through the complete medical history of all the patients in a day is a time-consuming task. EHRs are not just too complicated to understand and work with, but they are also not mobile. I am expected to sit in front of my system, otherwise, no work gets done,” a provider from Texas sums up his concerns.

Due to the slow adoption of EHRs to mobile devices, physicians feel trapped in the complexity of its usage. There is a need for tech to solve the mobility and interface issues for physicians. Only when an integrated data foundation is created, applications that draw out the necessary information can be built to empower physicians. The future of healthcare is embedded with medical applications that will be mobile, freeing physicians from the clutches of the system-seat and its monotony.

Quality patient care emerges out of the combined efforts of doctors and their care teams. So, it becomes essential that health tech advances all members of the provider team members at the same pace. Care managers have their own challenges and expectations from the technology that is designed to assist them. Are we embracing their worries?

Even though digital patient engagement has changed the way we keep our patients in the loop throughout their care journey, I still have to schedule the follow-ups manually. Six out of the ten patients I see in a day, suffer from chronic diseases. Generally, these are old people that need simpler interfaces to stay engaged, ” voices a care team member from Arizona.

Care managers spend the majority of their time creating reminders and confirming events/appointments, creating lists of patients, and sending individual messages to patients.  Administrative tasks such as calling and following-up with each patient daily is extremely time-consuming and inefficient. Technology that implements streamlined workflows and automates administrative tasks is needed to replenish the joy of practice in the lives of the care teams.

The Road Ahead

The purpose of healthcare technology should be to fix even the minuscule gaps in the professional workflows of provider and payer care teams. Our current technology might be missing out on addressing the ground obstacles to delivering quality patient care. 

In the present scenario, data can no longer be seen as a byproduct of care processes. We need technology that integrates and understands the importance of providing data at the point-of-care and streamlines healthcare data can assist providers and care teams to redefine their outcomes, processes, and successfully navigate the transition to value-based care.

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