In my last blog, I talked about the Overwhelming Cost of Aging. In this blog, I will share with you my views on the role of technology to offer improved patient care.
Recently I went to an appointment with a new doctor. I had never been to her office before. When I walked in, the nice lady at reception handed me a tablet and asked me to complete the medical records survey. The internet connection was slow and each page load took more than 30 seconds. An hour later I had finally finished answering the questions and handed the tablet back to the receptionist.
Shortly thereafter I was in a patient room and a first year resident started to ask me questions. “Do you have a history of high blood pressure? Stoke? Heart disease?” After a few minutes of questioning I interrupted her. “Excuse me, but these questions seem very similar to those I just spent an hour answering out in reception.”
The resident politely informed me that the questionnaire in reception would be given to the anesthesiology department in [the remote] chance I might require their services. It would take 24 hours for that information to replicate into the computer system she was using. Meanwhile, she had more information she needed to collect.
As a patient, having to recall your medical history to multiple doctors is taxing. As a parent, the challenge multiplies by how many children you have under your care. Personally, I found small details were left out so recently created a one page summary of my medical history – a cliff notes version of my life to help fill out these types of surveys more consistently.
It actually doesn’t have to be so hard. Years ago I lived in Boston and my doctors were part of the Harvard Pilgrim network. Records between my allergist, primary care doctor and obstetrician were seamlessly communicated. Each of my 3 doctors had full visibility on how to best provide me with care, as a whole person.
Delivering Care Leveraging the Cloud
There have been major advances in wearables to track infants’ vital signs including respiration, skin temperature and heart rate as featured in a recent Wall Street Journal article. Moving patient records to the cloud with information delivered via preferred devices will further improve patient care. The burden of patient histories will be reduced. It will be easier for specialists to see one another’s notes when managing multiple ailments. With cloud-based electronic health records, more patients will be able to seek care in centers-of-excellence (COE) as information sharing is easier between the COE and the local physician.
While I like to think that the benefits of cloud-based electronic health records are all about me, the patient, there are actually some compelling benefits for physicians too. For instance, deployment of an electronic health record system is easier to set up and maintain in the cloud. The cloud vendor acts as the physician’s IT department. For most small to medium practices, IT is not a core competency. Cloud pricing tends to follow a subscription model which mitigates the substantial up-front software cost of deploying an electronic health record system on premise. In some cases, cloud technology can allow the doctor to work-from-home. I know of a radiologist out of New York who can now review scans from his winter home in Florida.
The migration to cloud based electronic health record systems has really just begun. Innovating providers like Practice Fusion are beginning to deploy new business models that allow the record system to be offered free to physicians. The deployments are paid for by a combination of embedded advertising and cleansed patient analytics that can be purchased for a fee. Cleansed analytics offer exciting promise of better care. Soon a physician will be able to compare the symptoms and treatment for his patient with other patients under other doctors’ care. Medicine is a ‘practice’ not a ‘science,’ yet by having greater access to comparative patient information the bridge between ‘science’ and ‘practice’ can be shortened.
You can join us at SAPPHIRE NOW, where you will get the opportunity to network with industry peers, to talk to SAP partners, to touch and feel the latest healthcare solutions and technology innovations. The SAP for Healthcare team looks forward to seeing you at SAPPHIRE in Orlando, June 3-5. Register at http://www.sapandasug.com/index.html
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