It might be hard to believe, but one of the last professional groups to have an interest in the cloud is physicians – yet they have the most to benefit from its capabilities. Traditionally, healthcare providers have never been early adopters of technology or seen as information technology (IT) innovators. But the cloud might be the last saving grace for independent physicians to better serve their patients and collaborate on wellness plans.
Healthcare reform and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act are driving massive changes in the healthcare provider market. Physicians along with physician practices are being purchased by hospitals and hospital systems in order to gain power from the payers. Physician practices are interested in being acquired to help offload some of the regulatory, capital, administrative, and technical pressures.
Today, about 60 percent of family doctors and pediatricians, 50 percent of surgeons and 25 percent of surgical subspecialists — such as ophthalmologists and ear, nose and throat surgeons — are employees rather than independents, according to the American Medical Association*.
There are multiple reasons medical professionals and practices want to stay independent. One of which is they don’t want to lose control from being an “owner” to a salaried employee. Another reason is they don’t want to be burdened by a larger health system. But to remain independent, physician groups still have to deal with the issues of healthcare reform. They are required to use Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems to store and manage patient information. They are required to attest to Meaningful Use under the HITECH Act. They will also have to leverage a variety of new technologies such as analytics and clinical integration in order to succeed in a more competitive market.
These can be daunting tasks for even the largest health systems, so how are private practices going to be able to survive? By looking to the cloud!
The cloud is the great equalizer. It allows independent physicians and physician groups to leverage the technology tools that larger organizations leverage at a fraction of the cost. All you have to do is a quick Google search with key words related to Electronic Medical Records, Practice Management, Revenue Cycle Management, Regulatory Management, Data Management, and other clinical and business management systems and you’ll see the cloud solutions that currently exist.
And best yet, it is all supported for you remotely! This is the Holy Grail for lean practices with limited resources and little to no technology capabilities. Imagine having access to top technology which is managed for you while still owning your data, and being able to focus your time on your highest priorities – patient care. Not to mention utilizing the cloud doesn’t require you having IT staff as an expense, or the costly onsite IT infrastructure which is subject to potential loss if there was a disaster in your building and/or office. It is not only financially beneficial to look to the cloud but also a good business practice for disaster recovery planning. Without access to your data 24×7, your practice will suffer, as will the care to your patients. If physicians want to stay independent, it is becoming clear that leveraging the cloud will be critical to their success.
* American Medical Association, Physician Practice Information (PPI) Survey
Posted on 12/03/2014 at 12:00:00 AM
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