Practice Marketing

Paper or Digital - Practice Management in the Digital Age

Paper or Digital - Practice Management in the Digital Age

Digital technologies are beginning to reinvent the way the healthcare industry works. Today, more than half of the adult population owns a smartphone. As a result, mobile applications are also rising – with over four million health apps being downloaded per day. With the use of smartphones and tablets, patients are starting to monitor their medical conditions on their own and they are transmitting the collected data to their doctors. Doctors, in turn, use the collected data to update patient records and charts during appointments. They also use digital technologies to communicate with fellow colleagues and share photos, questions, and comments.

The healthcare industry has traditionally worked under a paper-based system, which cannot be analyzed as quickly and as easily as a digital system. Typically paper health records are maintained in large warehouses. These paper records take up a lot of space and require personnel to organize and handle the files. What’s more, they also tend to deteriorate over a period of time. Electronic health records (EHR), on the other hand, are stored on a private and secure platform as opposed to a physical storage space. Doctors, such as you, can access these records instantaneously and treat patients in a timelier manner.

Although the initial costs of implementing digital technologies in healthcare are relatively high, the financial burden is outweighed by the main advantages. Electronic health records do not require additional personnel, time, or a large physical storage space. They also cannot be accessed by unauthorized individuals if proper and effective security systems are set in motion. Moreover, they can be mailed, scanned, and emailed at the click of a button, as timing is crucial in clinical settings.

Moving paper health records to an electronic-based system is drastically changing the way that doctors perform their work and the way that patients receive care. With the influx of smartphones, mobile apps, and patient-centered solutions, practices are becoming more digitalized, enabling a more timely and personalized approach to patient care. According to statistics, the healthcare continuum will be unrecognizable by the year 2020. For this reason, anticipation and preparation are the two key aspects to successful transitioning during this period of rapid change.

It’s a basic fact that nowadays, paper-based systems are an ineffective inconvenience, no matter the field that you are in. However, with the rise of digital innovations, the healthcare industry is beginning to slowly transition away from paper and towards digitalization. While these trends are taking their time to make their way through to medical practices and hospitals, here are some of the ways in which digital technologies have affected doctors, patients, and the healthcare industry as a whole.

  • Quicker and smarter radiography

The development of digital sensors allows x-ray images to be viewed immediately or digitally enhanced for clearer screening. What’s more, they can be sent directly to you or your patients via email, leading to faster diagnosis time and improved patient outcomes. As an added bonus, digital radiography also involves less harmful radiation and it is a much more cost-effective approach for patients.

  • Telemedicine

Telemedicine is the use of telecommunication to digitally transfer medical information and provide access to medical services in distant rural communities. It allows patients to be diagnosed and treated remotely, all the while reducing the risk of medical errors. What’s more, you can access a patient’s medical history instantly and have consultations with patients or other doctors via video conferencing.

  • Smart grid for medical information

Electronic health records provide collected data in one area, yet according to recent news, they will be able to provide a smart grid for medical information. This smart grid will be used for the purpose of analyzing new trends, creating predictive models, and identifying prospective participants for clinical trials. As a result, it will advance research efforts and possibly improve clinical outcomes.

  • Increased patient safety

Digital technologies can improve patient safety in several ways: increased access to patient records, as well as improved legibility of prescriptions, clinical notes, reminders, summary lists, and more. Doctors are more aware of patient diagnoses, allergies, and surgeries at a simple glance, allowing for direction of more specific medical guidelines and improved medical care.

  • Expectations of the public

Electronic health records result in fewer misplaced charts, fewer medical errors, and quicker delivery of educational patient material. Patient portals also allow patients to access their medical records and perform several functionalities such as booking appointments, refilling prescriptions, and more - all resulting in increased patient satisfaction.

  • Expectations of the government

Electronic health records are considered to be the backbone for healthcare reform by the federal government. It is the goal of the United States government to incorporate electronic health records in all healthcare facilities as a way to increase productivity, efficiency, and clinical-decision making. The potential benefits of such digital technologies can further help manage and improve disease management among patients, thus improving health outcomes.

  • Stronger doctor-patient relationships

Digital records help not only doctors to consult with one another but also help doctors’ to interact with patients. In the past, clinical-decision making was time-consuming. It involved waiting for information, getting it to the right party, analyzing it, and making informed decisions. Nowadays, with the fast transfer of digital medical information, patients can get opinions from doctors’ even countries away. What’s more, you can work together with other doctors simultaneously to share information and learn from one another while making important decisions pertaining to patient care.

  • Improved productivity and efficiency

With digital records, patient information is available to any individual who needs it, when they need it and where they need it. Lab results can be retrieved much quicker, in turn saving both time and money.

  • Better quality of care

Above all, providing quality care is the most important aspect in a healthcare setting. With electronic health records, quality health records are much more easily created and they provide in-depth information pertaining to each patient’s individual case – more specifically, an individualized approach to care. You can communicate with patients much more effectively and increase operational efficiency, all the while providing better overall patient experiences.

  • Cyber-connection of healthcare systems

Digital technologies have the ability to connect systems across healthcare. Such systems include hospital finance systems, electronic health records, medical devices, and more. Through improved efficiency, optimal methods to engage and inform patients can be found and medical costs can be greatly reduced. Furthermore, the cyber-connection of healthcare systems has the opportunity to deliver better quality of care.

It is widely agreed that electronic health records are one form of a transformational tool that will revolutionize healthcare in the United States by allowing for more standardized medicine. In order to bring its infrastructure up to date, the healthcare industry definitely needs to transition from paper systems to electronic-based systems – starting with medical practices and doctors such as you. This transition is starting to have a clear impact not only on how you communicate with patients but also how patients choose to communicate with you. Like it or not, patients are much more empowered nowadays and they have begun to accept the digital age. Such digital health solutions allow them to receive one, two, or countless opinions for healthcare professionals in order to make better informed decisions relating to their care.

Systems for electronic health records date back to the 1980s. While technology is drastically advancing, it still has a long way to go. Yet, the move from paper to digital technology has the ability to improve health disparities in access, quality and affordability of medical care. Easy and protected access will also allow patients to stay more informed and engaged. As a result, such a transition can result in greater efficiency, increased productivity, lower health-related costs, and above all, better quality care for patients. Is your practice evolving with the times? Are you behind or ahead of the curve?