An informal poll conducted by Healthcare Scene at the 2019 Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) annual conference, #MGMA19AC, identified several key technology trends for physician practices in the years ahead.
Thoughtful and Strategic Technology Purchasing
Mike Cuesta, SVP Marketing at CareCloud, a cloud-based ambulatory EHR platform, is seeing a welcome trend towards thoughtful and strategic technology purchasing by medical groups.
“There is no doubt that there is a lot of consolidation happening with medical groups,” said Cuesta. “But not all the buyers are hospitals. Forward-thinking medical groups are seizing the opportunity to scale and strengthen their practices through peer consolidation. These larger entities are much more strategic in their approach to purchasing.”
Instead of looking for technologies that satisfy their current needs, these larger entities are looking for technologies that can scale and adapt to their future needs.
“They are looking for platforms that make it easy for them to add new users very quickly,” continued Cuesta. “They are giving careful consideration to vendors that have the ability to integrate seamlessly and easily with other products. They are also taking time to hunt for technology solutions that will help them stand out from other medical groups.”
Video Consults and Voice Will Drive Interoperability
Kathy Dalton Ford, President and Chief Product Officer at Rhinogram, a company that offers a HIPAA-compliant telehealth platform, believes that over the next couple of years, video and voice will fuel a trend for more interoperability.
“Video consults are only going to increase in popularity,” predicted Ford. “It’s just so convenient for both patients and physicians. I see the same thing happening with voice-enabled applications – through platforms like Alexa and Google, where more and more health information will be delivered. As more medical groups move towards adopting both these technologies, there will be an increased need for systems that are interoperable. I am really encouraged by the degree of integration that is happening in the medical group space.”
AI, Machine Learning and Voice Recognition
Paul Brient, Chief Product Officer at athenahealth is confident that we have entered an era of EHR optimization where medical groups will provide better care by leveraging their data with advanced tools like AI, machine learning and voice-powered applications.
“The next wave of technologies has the potential to allow the industry to realize the promise of EHRs,” explained Brient. “Specifically, AI, machine learning and voice recognition, will allow medical practices to simplify workflows and get the computer out of the way of care delivery. Iterative innovations in interoperability brings the potential for every clinician to have a relevant and complete longitudinal medical record while streamlining the connections between providers, patients, payers and clinical staff.”
Technology to Support Value-Based Initiatives
David Cohen, SVP Product Management at Greenway Health sees medical groups adopting technologies and systems that better support their value-based payment initiatives.
“The whole industry is continuing to move towards value-based payment models,” explained Cohen. “To support that move, medical groups are looking beyond population health tools. They will need platforms and systems that can support a sustained, long-term movement towards value. There is a real movement to embrace innovation and new technologies aligned with this goal.”
Patient Communication in Post-Acute Care
Nagi Prahbu, Chief Product Officer at Solutionreach is confident that in the years ahead, more investments will be made in patient communication outside of the acute and ambulatory care setting.
“Post-acute care, which includes skilled nursing facilities, home care organizations and palliative care organizations have a need to communicate with patients,” said Prahbu. “Unfortunately, the attention and funding of post-acute care has not allowed those organizations to make the investments in patient communication technologies – text, voice, chat, etc. But as medical groups shift to value-based care, they are seeing the need and making this investment.”
More Data Analytics
Rob Tennant, Director of Health Information Technology Policy, at MGMA believes that medical groups will be making bigger bets on data analytics in the coming years.
“Larger medical groups will be making significant investments in data analytics in the years ahead,” explained Tennant. “This is partly because of past investments made in digitizing their practices with EHR platforms and partly because data-based decision making is growing in importance. Of course a lot of attention is being placed on clinical decision support tools but equally important is benchmarking. Benchmarking one site versus another in a large group practice will allow leaders to identify inefficiencies and spur a healthy competition to improve. People forget that data analytics can benefit the operational side in addition to the clinical side.”