EHR and Health IT Consulting
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EHR and Health IT Consulting
Technical Doctor's insights and information collated from various sources on EHR selection, EHR implementation, EMR relevance for providers and decision makers
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Three Ways Managers Can Work Better with Physicians

Three Ways Managers Can Work Better with Physicians | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

With value-based payment models taking over healthcare, practice managers and administrators must be more aware of how physicians deliver care and how they can help them do it more efficiently. Likewise, physicians, if they care about their compensation levels, need to be more aware of how their decisions impact the bottom line.

"Patient care and practice financials/operations are not siloed," said Joan Hablutzel, senior industry analyst for the Medical Group Management Association. "They are interdependent and in order for each area to be successful, they need to work together."

For practice managers, understanding how your role impacts clinical care, improving communication between providers and the administrative team, and streamlining old processes can go a long way toward fostering collaboration between you and your physicians, Hablutzel said. Here's how:

1. Understanding your impact on clinical care. Practice managers and executives are experts in operations management, financial management, human resources management, organizational governance, risk and compliance management, and patient-centered care processes. Despite this, you, and your front-office staff, may lack insight into how each of these areas affects patient care directly.

"While [administrators] are not providing clinical care to patients, they are designing and facilitating patient care systems that leverage technology, focus on chronic disease prevention and management, and seamlessly integrate the business and clinical operations of the practice," Hablutzel said. This is essential "because there is an entire business and structure behind effective care-delivery models."

Make sure you are communicating with physicians regularly so that you gain a better understanding of what changes you can make to help them provide higher quality care at a lower cost.

2. Improving communication between physicians and the administrative team. Promoting open and effective communication between providers and administrators will most likely require you to listen to providers describe what they would like to fix at the practice. You will likely learn much more about what bothers them, however, based on what is not said, according to William Henderson, practice administrator for the AMC Neurology Group, part of Albany Medical College in New York.

"You have to listen at a couple levels," Henderson said, who started managing his first neurology practice nearly 20 years ago. "Words are being said, but you're really listening to what the purpose is of telling you this information."

Providers complaining to you "may be communicating a lot more about the intensity of what they feel," Henderson said, rather than the importance of the particular issue, which may seem trivial. Learning about the larger issue that is really bothering providers is the skill you will need to develop to improve communication.

When physicians (who tend to want to fix all problems on their own) feel comfortable venting about an issue to an administrator, it usually indicates a greater level of trust and is actually a positive sign, he said.

"Physicians tend to react differently with people with whom they have a trusting relationship than they do with just anybody," he said.

3. Streamlining old processes. Another way to build the trust that leads to greater collaboration is to implement quick process improvements that deliver a positive change that physicians and other providers will notice, Hablutzel said.

For example, if providers are often working overtime or feeling short-handed, you may want to explore creating new staffing models.

"Looking at the role each staff member plays and determining if they are working up to their licensure level is typically the first step," Hablutzel said. "By collaborating and looking at staffing, the administrator and physician can understand and make changes so their staff are more efficient, effective, and acutely focused on the patient."

Jef Be's curator insight, May 22, 2015 7:00 AM

An issue? Na!!

First Apple Watch health IT apps bring important messages to the wrist

First Apple Watch health IT apps bring important messages to the wrist | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Many of the first Apple Watch health IT apps will give doctors faster access to critical information and ease communication between health care providers, while other apps will attempt to get patients more engaged with their health.

Don’t expect doctors to glance at their wrists to view X-rays or a patient’s chart, though. Given the Apple Watch’s screen size, functions that involve text messages work best on the device.

 “Doctors get that the watch is a tool to help them deal with information overload,” said Michael Nusimow, CEO of drchrono, which makes EHR (electronic health record) software.

Like many other companies in the health space, drchrono announced its app this week at a large health IT conference put on by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, a nonprofit that looks to use IT to improve medical care. About a dozen companies in the health care industry announced their Apple Watch apps this week.

EHRs can overwhelm a physician with troves of data on a patient, Nusimow said.

With drchrono’s Apple Watch app, doctors can receive relevant and important information, such as when a patient arrives at the office. The app can also provide them with the patient’s vital statistics and pictures.

The watch is better suited for tasks like getting text notifications, while the iPad and iPhone, which drchrono also has apps for, can handle functions that require bigger screens, like reviewing charts, Nusimow said.

Watches are more socially acceptable than smartphones, making them ideal to handle messages and notifications, said Vik Kheterpal, principal at CareEvolution, which develops the technology behind health information exchanges.

CareEvolution worked with health insurance provider Anthem to develop its Apple Watch app, which was announced this week. The app, called cFHR, is designed to provide Anthem customers with timely health information. The app, for example, will remind patients to check their blood pressure or alert them about possible medication interactions.

While the iPhone can complete the same tasks as the Apple Watch, there’s a nuanced difference between the devices, Kheterpal said.

People depend on smartphones to instantly convey information. But as the devices have become larger, people may find them a bit cumbersome to constantly remove from their bag or pocket. Plus, some aspects of smartphones, like the devices inopportunely ringing, are social taboos, he said.

The Apple Watch, by comparison, is an extension of the phone, always on a person’s wrist and reliably delivers notifications, Kheterpal said.

The Apple Watch won’t replace the iPhone, said Nate Gross, co-founder of Doximity, a startup that operates a social network for U.S. physicians.

With its app, Doximity was looking to offload some functions to the watch, but save a majority of the tasks for the iPhone.

“We focused on messaging because in the clinical setting, there are a number of times when you just don’t want to take out your phone to start texting,” said Gross.

In some situations, doctors may find that speaking is a better option that typing, he said. For instance, they may prefer to dictate patient notes instead of type them into an iPhone.

While an iPhone app can receive messages, doctors may not hear the phone or feel it vibrate if they place the device in their pocket or lab coat, said Gross.

Doximity’s app, which was announced last week, allows physicians to view messages sent to them from other doctors who use the company’s social network and also to receive alerts when a fax arrives.

In health care, “time is tissue” and delivering alerts to a person’s wrist may help a doctor view an urgent message more quickly, he said.

Some physicians who work long hours may need to extend the Apple Watch’s 18-hour battery life to the get the most from their health IT apps, Gross added. Emergency room doctors and medical residents can work 24-hour shifts.

Some may purchase third-party watch bands equipped with batteries while others will charge the device during their shifts, he said.

“We will see friction occur on battery life for very specific doctors rather than doctors as a whole,” said Gross. Physicians aren’t accustomed to owning watches that require nightly charging, he added.