Patients don't come to me because they're in pain, they come because they've lost something, says orthopedic surgeon Dr. Alonzo Sexton

In this special Speaker Series, Becker's Healthcare caught up with Alonzo Sexton, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Northside Hospital Sports Medicine Network in Atlanta, Georgia.

Dr. Sexton will speak on a panel during the Becker's Hospital Review 4th Annual Health IT + Revenue Cycle Conference on "Using Health IT to Improve Clinical Care," at 1:45 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19. Learn more about the event and register to attend in Chicago.

Question: How does your organization gain physician buy-in when it is implementing a new technology or solution? 

Dr. Alonzo Sexton: I think it comes down to two things:

  1. A compelling story for patient benefit
  2. Minimal effect or improvement of workflow

Physicians want to act in the interest of improving patient outcomes and experience, and an argument that [is able to convince] them that a technology solution will achieve this goal is more likely to get support. The increased demands on physician time in regards to administrative and nonclinical responsibilities creates a mood of skepticism when presented with the "latest and greatest" tech solution that will solve problems. Historically, many of these solutions have added to the time burden physicians [already face].

Q: What is one thing you've learned about your patient population that's really surprised you? 

AS: Patients don't come to the office for the reason I thought. When I started practice as an orthopedic surgeon I thought they came because they were in pain, and my role was to relieve that pain. Through the years, I began to realize that the real reason patients come is because they have lost something. It may be that they are unable to run or play a sport that they love, or maybe they've lost the ability to work and provide for their family. I began to see my role as a facilitator to return to them what they have lost, and this is the key to providing patient-centric care.

Q: What do you see as the most vulnerable part of a hospital's business? 

AS: Under-appreciation for the greatest untapped asset of the organization: [data]. Hospital systems, and medical practices for that [matter], manage and transmit large volumes of information and data. More and more, healthcare is becoming a data management industry. Failure to recognize this data as an asset and outsourcing the control of this information to third parties, in my opinion, represents a missed opportunity.

Q: What is the most exciting thing happening in health IT right now? And what is the most overrated health IT trend? 

AS: I think it is an exciting time in health IT as there is the potential for the melding of several technologies to create better outcomes and [streamline] care delivery. Artificial intelligence, genomics and personalized medicine, blockchain technology [and] internet of things all have the potential to come together at this time to change the way we think about medical care delivery.

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