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

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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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