Mon | Nov 19, 2018

Health + Tech | Here’s why medical practitioners should embrace technology

Published:Sunday | June 3, 2018 | 12:08 AMDoug Halsall

Several medical practitioners have indicated that they want to introduce electronic medical records (EMR) but they are not looking at the vast opportunities the technology can bring to modernising health care management, or even the much better linkages that EMR could have in digitising other aspects of their operations. 

Generally, we believe in looking at the bigger picture and so when a client approaches us with a need, we demonstrate to them the possibilities beyond that one objective.

We have received so many queries on just EMR that I feel obliged to share information I believe will assist medical practices to make a decision that will be more holistic and will explain why doctors should begin using health technology.

 

Ease and efficiency of accessing the service

The most obvious reason is the ease with which patients can find and access services once the practice is online.

We have to remember that it is human nature to find the easiest and most efficient way to get something done. What is easier than typing in a few characters and in seconds, getting a complete list from which to choose?

Additionally, if there is no easy way for someone, outside of your geographical area, to find your practice, your client pool is going to be limited. If you are online however, you will be among an easily searchable group, so a client can quickly make a decision to find you and seek out your services, without much effort on your part.

With the technology they could even access your schedule, make an appointment pay for it with a credit card or mobile money.

 

A total view of patient’s health

Having all aspects of your practice digitised can create linkages with other areas such as pharmacy, lab, radiology, ophthalmology, and dental, and can allow you to see a complete map of the health and treatment history of the patient. This will enable better understanding and decision making.

 

Data analytics and forecasting

The ability to access disparate data and combine for a full analysis of not just the particular patient’s health but also an overall picture of general health trends within and outside the practice.

Can you imagine the types of quick and more accurate interventions that can be done with this kind of information?

 

Overall patient management

Technology will enable better patient management linking all parts to the whole. If all of the patient’s health practitioners - physician, dentist, ophthalmologist - had access to a comprehensive health record in one place, that would enable them to link with each other in ways that cannot quickly be facilitated without the technology.

For one, they would be able to use each other’s assessments as part and parcel of their own diagnosis and input. Second, they could all ‘meet’ and discuss issues with the patient at the same time through a telemedicine platform.

Here the technology could facilitate maintaining the doctor’s individuality of practice but also allow for joint effort when necessary. 

 

A comprehensive business model

Let’s not forget that at the end of the day, health care is a business. So while the technology facilitates the important aspects of patient care, it must also support the business processes. In this vein, the technology can support elements such as billings and receivables, inventory management, payments, calendar management, multiple practice management among others. 

A doctor who recently got our practice management system, shared that he was home and able to see patients through the telemedicine component and even sent prescriptions to an in-house clinic, enabling business continuity.

These are just a few of the many benefits, but they already show how advantageous it would be financially to physicians, patients and business. Technology can boost every aspect of a medical practice and so my advice would be for physicians to think beyond EMR and look at how technology can be fully integrated into their practice to enjoy all the possible efficiencies and benefits.

 

- Doug Halsall is chairman and CEO, Advanced Integrated Systems.  Feedback:  doug.halsall@gmail.com or editorial@gleanerjm.com