I have one of the best jobs ever, one where my mandate is to help physicians be aware of opportunities to improve their practices and to provide them with resources, advocacy and knowledge. I believe in the ability of technology to be a tool for physicians to provide the best possible care to their patients. I believe in the right information, at the right time for the right outcome … but how do we get there?
Most physicians are working long hours, fighting to see enough patients to offset reduced fee schedule payments, keeping up with pay for performance administrative hoops, and not letting any patient’s care slip through the proverbial crack. So talking with physicians about health information exchange and adopting electronic health records is a little like trying to sell them a spaceship. Sure, in theory it might be enticing, but tell them again why they need it and how they will find the time to implement anything new?
I often visualize it like pushing a boulder uphill. Once it gets to the summit, going downhill it will pick up speed. Admittedly, it’s not easy: doctors will have to continue doing the daily tasks required to get paid for quantity, even as they adopt the technology that will eventually allow them to be paid for quality. Currently, payment is based on CPT codes and RBRVUs (Resource Based Relative Value Units) that measure the value of services performed in the exam room. However, physicians have long known that true patient care goes beyond what can be billed for in that face-to-face meeting. Once we have data in structured, searchable formats, physicians can begin to show the true quality care they already provide, and can expect to be paid for all the extras that go into that care.
So, how do you sell a doctor a spaceship … or get them to push a heavy boulder uphill? By proving it will get them where they want to go. So what can health technology help you with today that would be worth the time you will expend to adopt it? If the industry is being encouraged to move toward quality-based medicine and subsequent reimbursement, what are the first tasks that could be incorporated to help meet physicians where they are, and help them to push that boulder up the hill? Please share your thoughts with me.