The following is a guest blog post by Steve Baker, President of Eyefinity®
As a practice owner, new regulatory requirements are not always perceived positively as a benefit to the business or to the patient. However, if approached with a different mindset, they are an opportunity to reflect on your business – for example, where you are today and where you want to be in the future. Today, you have the pressure of electronic health records (EHR), attesting for meaningful use (MU) and the explosion of digital communication in the office and with your patients. The list seemingly goes on forever and at times may appear to be at odds with primary goals of patient care.
I have spoken with eye care providers all around the U.S., and patient care consistently rises to the top as their highest priority. One interesting question that I receive frequently is, “What is the anticipated benefit of MU in my personal practice, and what will it look like in the future?” From my perspective, EHR and MU should be viewed as the underlying platform for healthcare moving forward.
The pace of technology creation and adoption and the medical industry’s constant move toward interoperability are things that should be viewed as positive benefits for your patients, as well as for your business. This connectivity will enable healthcare to progress to the next level. Here are three circumstances that will have an impact on how MU will ultimately benefit your patients and your practice:
- Consumer demand: Consumers are mobile and technology-enabled and expect endless choices. According to Google/Ipsos, 96 percent of smartphone owners have researched for a product or service on their phone. They are using technology to connect and interact with everything that is important in their lives. Healthcare will inevitably become a part of this.
- Changing demographics: The 65+ age group, which represents approximately 13 percent of the population today, is projected to be 20 percent of the population by 2050, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The late teens to early 30s age group (Gen Y, or Millennials), makes up perhaps the largest segment of the workforce at approximately 80 million people.
- Telemedicine:BenefitsPro.com, citing an IHS Technology report, shares that there will be a 20-fold growth in patients who are using telemedicine in the coming decade. What’s more is that 72 percent of consumers are willing to see their health provider via video conference.
MU objectives are propelling the industry to collectively meet the needs of the consumer, and if you don’t have the right systems in place, then you won’t be relevant to your patients in the future. For example, how would you answer the following questions?
- How do you connect securely with your patients outside of the exam room to discuss treatment and follow-up care?
- Can your patient securely access his/her medical information, and does the patient have a positive experience when trying to schedule an appointment?
- Can you access your records from any location, at any time and from any device?
The answers to these questions need to align with the views of your patients as their expectations continue to evolve. Understand that regulatory requirements are opportunities to reassess your business and determine how you can be relevant to your patients, now and over the coming years. Connect with your peers to see what is working for them. Make sure that you are using a certified EHR and have the right business partner in place to help you get the most out of your systems and business.
The MU discussion should focus on how the medical industry can increase value to the patient – the same patient who is your customer and who is becoming a self-directed, technology-connected individual who is reluctant to accept in his or her healthcare less than what is experienced in other aspects of life. Effectively taking care of the patient can lead to enhanced business results, and MU is one path to the future.
Steve Baker, President, oversees the day-to-day operations of Eyefinity®, the eye care industry’s leading provider of practice management and EHR solutions and one of five innovative companies comprising VSP Global®. Steve is focused on business growth, strategic planning and product development. Steve holds a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science from California State University, Northridge, with a concentration in systems design and mathematics. Steve enjoys most anything outdoors and is an avid cycling fan. He can be reached by e-mail at Steve.Baker@eyefinity.com.