by Sal Casillas
Physician dissatisfaction with older health technology and new demands under value-based care is creating a fresh cycle of digital health transformation.
Note: The following article is an extension of one of five key trends highlighted in a larger briefing report available for download here: The New Medical Economy.
The general health technology sector appears to be falling behind while serving an increasingly discerning medical professional audience. Only 34 percent of physicians surveyed by the American Medical Association in 2014 said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their EHR systems in 2014, compared with 61 percent of respondents in a similar survey conducted five years earlier.
The move to electronic health record (EHR) systems jump-started a new digital age for medical practices. Incentivized under the 2009 stimulus plan, EHR technology, which was previously used by less than half of doctors, has grown to more than 80 percent adoption in less than eight years. However, many of these original EHR systems have not aged well. Expensive, server-based health technology is quickly becoming obsolete for physicians used to carrying the latest iPhone in their white coats.
A rip-and-replace market has heated up as dissatisfied medical practices upgrade their health technology systems. The sector has shifted away from server-based systems and toward cloud technology — creating faster upgrade cycles, improved design, and more innovation.
“Improvements in web-based EHRs — including implementations, updates, usability, and customization — have reversed overall EHR satisfaction in small practices from barely 13 percent in 2012 to 83 percent overall, small practice EHR users said in the second quarter of 2015”
“Improvements in web-based EHRs — including implementations, updates, usability, and customization — have reversed overall EHR satisfaction in small practices from barely 13 percent in 2012 to 83 percent overall, small practice EHR users said in the second quarter of 2015,” according to reporting by Fierce Healthcare.
The flexibility of cloud technology is needed now more than ever as medical groups prepare for an uncertain regulatory future. While the roadmap for value-based care seems secure, medical groups are modernizing and connecting their technology to be able to adapt to whatever may come next.
Higher-performing practices are looking beyond basic EHR systems to build out their technology platforms with more sophisticated tools for revenue capture, workflow automation, and patient experience as they compete within an increasingly consumer-driven marketplace. Early adopters of cloud technology are strengthening their health IT backbone by automating basic administrative tasks and linking EHR data with new population health tools to support clinical quality and cost-management initiatives.
“The cloud is creating a foundation for a flexible assembly model, not only to tap into past tech investments that organizations have made, but also to enable them to transform their business models quickly. Companies are taking services and data and linking them together to create new and innovative applications or business processes,” reported Forbes.
What to watch:
Look for specialized technologies that can be implemented across multiple EHR platforms. As the post-EHR health technology market matures, an increased focus on open APIs will help medical groups to enhance their services without having to “rip-and-replace” base systems.