From the IT side of things, I can’t agree more with all the additional administrative functions that appear in today’s medical practice, as a few years ago when I was writing code and creating a medical records program, much of what I was doing was looking for ways to automate some of this, to free the physicians and medical assistants from all the labor intensive paperwork, like getting rid of the Chinese fire drill to the fax machine and putting internet faxing in place. We have, of course evolved in technology way beyond that stage, but simple solutions like that made a world of difference to how the office was able to handle the influx of additional administrative work that rolls down the pipe every day.
You do need technology in a practice today to keep things humming and maximize the amount of time spent with patients, if not, you are chasing the eternal paper trail forever. Most patients don’t see the back side of the administrative functions and for good reason, as the clinicians are there to focus on your healthcare, only when there is an issue with payers, does this really emerge. I do remember about 5 years ago telling physicians that who ever has the data, managed and organized is going to win this game and this is precisely what we have today, the payers ruling how healthcare works, risk management. A few years ago they looked at me in disbelief, but it is what it is, but when you write code, you know exactly where things are headed, because you write the stuff that makes this happen and evaluate and look at the software written by other developers to integrate and evaluation.
After spending time with practices on updating technology and finding better solutions, you do find out quite a bit about the people you work for, so as a practice, make sure you have a very trusted IT individual who is there to work as a partner. When bringing in computers and and internet, there were always those who wanted to test the water, so I found software, logs, etc. and spyware issues, and many more items on networks, and again this was before we had some of the updated software available today to restrict and maintain access to proper websites, and nobody ever knew how any of that got on their computer or network, as they never visited those sites. Your IT partners know more about the practice and everyone who works there than you think, thus again it comes back to working with a real team IT person that can work through some of these situations with you. As a rule of thumb today, I tell everyone “whatever goes on the internet, stays on the internet”, so think twice about what you do at the office, as your computer is at home.
But getting back to the administrative nightmares, they do exist and get uglier every day, just choices alone complicate issues not to mention the snags that come in to play. This truly makes a very good case too for us to work as patients to think about our own personal health records and bring some information to the table to help our physicians with all the information we need today, and on the other hand the physicians need electronic records to sort out all the information to help and diagnose our conditions in that sacred 10-15 minute visit. All of us can choose to query the web and take multitudes of extra time if we want, but the smart patients and physicians today are quickly using technology to get the job done, otherwise we are still back standing at the fax machine, and waiting, and waiting and waiting…BD
Did you feel healed the last time you went to the doctor? My bet is no. If you were lucky, maybe you got 10 minutes with the doctor. In not much more time than you might have spent in a fast food drive-thru, the doctor wrote a prescription, ordered a battery of lab tests and sent you off for a thousand dollars worth of imaging studies. Somewhere along the line too many doctors stopped being healers and became prescribers and technicians.
The modern physician pushes the paper around, convincing the insurance clerks to pay. The sad fact is the documentation of your visit and paperwork for referrals likely take your doctor as much time as seeing you.
Still, I know how much harder it has become to get things done compared with when I started practice a decade ago. I have to fight insurance companies more to get the drugs and treatments I think my patients need. I have to refer patients to bigger groups of specialists, and the quality of their service has gone down.