Deal With Busy Private Medical Practice Or Risk Losing Independence!
Illumination originally published this article on Medium!
Medical practice today has become more than taking care of patient health demands, even though that is the essence of every patient visit.
In the ever-complex healthcare domain of the 21st century, every physician finds themselves tackling everything from socioeconomic, quality, reimbursement, medicolegal and ethical aspects of every encounter they make with a patient.
Stockpiles of all these tasks on top of clinical evaluation and Clinical decision-making resemble the "Can of Worms" metaphor every clinician must use daily in and out amidst the workflow process. This scenario applies to almost every physician's practice within the United States and most developed countries.
Dealing with daily medical office workflow is a strenuous undertaking. Even though larger systems may have been able to break their operations down into the science and deal with it efficiently, independent physicians' practices are yet to match up to the more prominent organizations' triumphs! — Because it can be costly and resource-intensive. For instance, a hospital organization can easily afford to retain its medicolegal departments, human resources, medical staffing, risk management, and so much more. Nonetheless, independent physician practice, especially solo practice, can hardly foresee having in-house multidisciplinary services and departments. That is precisely why, in the United States, privately practicing physicians' number has dropped to an all-time low below 50% as of 2021.
The complexity of clinic operations is administrative intensive. It is a reality that physicians can run from it but they can never dodge!
So, there I an immense urgency for independent physicians to put aside their traditional hats and not let administrative burdens get the best of their practice!
I don't believe one can find a physician who would enjoy spending twenty minutes in front of the computer checking boxes, getting prior authorization, and fulfilling the quality indicators for patient visit reimbursement that lasted only fifteen minutes. Or, they retain additional costly resources to deal with those tasks hoping 3rd party payers will reimburse enough to break even.
Dealing with administrative burdens is hurting physicians and most medical practices.
Introducing new disruptive technologies such as Electronic Health Records (EHR), Telehealth systems, and Artificial intelligence-driven practice management systems have also had paradoxical outcomes. In many ways, they have contributed to physician burden and even burnout in the past decade.
The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 served as another fuel for physician bitterness—mandates over mandates and more Key performance factors to work towards getting paid.
The use of technology and automation can only do so much as, under current strategies and solutions, the administrative burden is not only not improving but are a contributor to the physicians' non-clinical workload.
Physicians can do so much before they reach their breaking point.
Indeed, EHR is one of the most significant sources of paperwork today. In 2016 alone, a study of 57 doctors' daily activities published in Annals of Internal Medicine discovered that physicians spent 49% of their total time in front of the computer and only 27% on direct clinical face time with patients. Today that trend is not much better. Another report from the Annals of Internal Medicine cited a similar finding in 2020.
So far, one can conclude that Electronic Health Records have added trillions of value to payers but not much value-added from the patient perspective.
Physicians today are the enslaved people in the contemporary healthcare paradox manufactured by and for the big data rush of corporations. That includes 3rd party payers.
The current EHRs have forced physicians to work like Robots for Robots. But, convincingly, shouldn’t it be the other way around?
EHRs today lack user-friendliness because they are designed to maximize profit for payers and billing warehouses and not necessarily patient care.
The current EHRs are neither flexible nor considerate of the particular custom workflow of the medical practices. They intend to create a culture of one-size-fits-all. That encloses the use of templates, formattable call to action and notification process, and lack of ability to create a collaborative environment. All in all, practices adapt to a new workflow when it should be the other way around.
The new system must be able to overcome all the problems associated with the current electronic health systems and more.
Imagine the new system is a hybrid domain where workflow virtually replicates the actual clinic operations that transpire daily. And such a "hybrid" milieu accommodates virtual and in-person physical experiences in tandem with each other.
Let us imagine that everyone in the patient's care can collaborate and set their quality, value, expectation, and goals before the start of the workflow. And suppose we automate only those workflow points one can't accomplish through collaboration within the hybrid system.
Imagine having access to all the internal and external resources, be they paid or accessible through the system.
Also, reckon you can enlist and engage patients in their care through the new system.
Imagine reducing the prior insurance reimbursement authorization burden by simply taking advantage of the new infrastructure.
Indeed, the new system is the modern healthcare operations infrastructure designed and needed to triumph over busy medical practices workflow process.
The Cyber-Physical-Human System (CPHS) takes the best human collaboration, technology automation, and cyber security and connection to double down on the resource-intensive problem that, if not tackled today, will cost independent physicians their solo practice and professional sovereignty.