Turn tech into a physician satisfier and health system differentiator: 6 key thoughts

Technology may contribute to some aspects of physician dissatisfaction, as clinicians spend time on data entry instead of direct patient care. However, health systems can partner with physicians to identify the most efficient technology and workflows to optimize their time and re-invigorate their practice.

At the Becker's Hospital Review 5th Annual Health IT + Revenue Cycle Conference in Chicago, a panel of experts discussed key topics in health IT, including return on investment and physician satisfaction. The panel, which occurred on Oct. 11, featured: Amy Lee, vice president, primary care, medical specialties and patient contact center at Carle Foundation Hospital and Carle Physician Group; Gail Peace, president and CEO of Ludi; Luis Saldana, MD, CMIO and advisor to StarBridge Advisors; and Alison Tothy, MD, associate professor of pediatrics and pediatric emergency medicine at University of Chicago Medicine.

Scott Becker, JD, partner at McGuireWoods and publisher of Becker's Healthcare, moderated the panel.

Six key takeaways:

1. For organizations big and small, physician engagement on solutions to ease the technology burden and improve patient care are important. Physicians are the care team leaders and it’s important to partner with them to lead the entire organization. More so than in the past, physicians have the ability and willingness to go beyond clinical care to really think strategically and help organizations put better structures in place to achieve their goals.

2. Run the efficiency reports and engage in day-to-day conversations with the physicians to understand their workflow. Maybe they are up doing documentation at 2 a.m.; point out to them that's the marker of a broken system and partner with them to identify technology tools to streamline their workflows. Standardization of processes can also make a big difference for the physicians and staff to produce controlled and reproducible outcomes.

3. There is often discord and confusion around compensation plans and payment for physicians. The right HR platform can simplify the complex compensation methodology so physicians see clearly how they're being paid. Mentorship also improves physician satisfaction. There are apps and technologies that can help you connect physicians within your system, which is also helpful for physicians making referrals.

4. It is important to leverage telemedicine correctly for efficient and effective patient encounters, but only in the right instances. Not every patient will get the help they need through telemedicine, and it could turn into a "race to the bottom" in terms of reimbursement structures. Health system executives are planning strategic growth more in the outpatient and virtual settings.

5. In previous years, health systems grew by putting satellite offices throughout their coverage areas, but that is expensive. Physicians also find the quality of life poor if they are driving two hours between locations. Telehealth can support efforts to deliver care broadly without the expense and trepidation about traveling long distances.

6. Physicians will have different technology habits and it will be important for organizations to invest in the technology that allows them to do well. For example, some appreciate scribes while others do not. Well-rounded ancillary technology will match a diverse workforce.

Don't miss the Becker's 3rd Annual Health IT + Clinical Leadership + Pharmacy event in Chicago, May 19-21, 2020. Click here to learn more and register.

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