How to Make Technology Work for Your Medical Practice
Healthcare delivery has seen a massive change with the availability of portable computing devices such as tablets and mobile phones and the vast number of apps they offer. Nonetheless, recent surveys suggest that a large fraction of medical practices are unhappy with their electronic health record (EHR) system and other technologies. How can you prevent such dissatisfaction? How can you make technology work for your medical practice? Here are some strategies for choosing and implementing the right technologies that will leave you smiling with the return on investment.
The first and perhaps most critical step in technology planning is developing a strategy based on inputs from all stakeholders, including the staff at your medical practice.
Whereas smaller medical practices do not have access to the same financial resources as large hospital systems, they do benefit from greater flexibility in strategizing for new technology.
Without advance planning, new technology can be disruptive to efficiency and workflow at a medical practice. The strategy should be to focus on the ultimate intended use of the technology rather than the features of the technology itself.
Practice Specialty and Technology Intent
Every medical practice has different technological needs based on size and specialty. Experts suggest that the direction of IT implementation should be determined by the specific needs the technology will address.
For example, a medical practice may need improved workflow efficiency or technology to manage prescriptions. This is essential if you want to choose the correct and most up-to-date technologies.
Needs and Wishes
Wishing for the newest technology is very different from needing the latest expensive technology at your medical practice. The question you should ask yourself is – What value will this technology add to my practice and the patient’s experience with us?
A telemedicine system may be the most cutting-edge technology available on the market, but it probably will only be a strategic choice for a niche group of practices that want to address the shortage of medical care in underserved, rural areas.
Budget and ROI
Investing in expensive technology that adds minimal or no value to your medical practice is not a sound business decision. Smaller practices need to be sensible about their choices, keeping in mind their budget and the expected return on investment from the proposed technology.
There is no sense in blindly aping large healthcare organizations and purchasing complex software or gadgets that do not offer value-for-money for lower volume medical centers. The strategy for smaller medical practices should be to invest in technology that will positively impact profitability.
Most practices allocate 5-6 percent of their annual revenue to new technology implementation. The return on investment is calculated by subtracting the technology cost from the additional revenue generated.
Technology implementation is not a one-man job. It is important to involve all stakeholders in the decision-making process. This includes the staff at your practice who will be the end users of the new technology and who are best suited to point out loopholes in the current system and define the unique needs of your medical practice.
In addition, the technical advisor, the CPA, and the vendor should participate in discussions about implementing new technology. This ensures the decision-making group has a broad knowledge base. This approach ensures the existing technology at a medical practice is complemented by the proposed new technology. If there is any incompatibility between existing and new technologies, then solutions can be found at the planning stage itself, avoiding potential problems with implementation of new technologies.