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What better way to celebrate September's National Health Information Technology (HIT) Week than to explore how electronic health records (EHR) and other technology solutions will affect providers and patients in the coming year? That's what Scott Mace set out to do. The writer for Health Leaders Media recently outlined his predictions for the next 12 months:
To illustrate this prediction, Mace shares a scenario he heard during the 2012 Healthcare Unbound Conference, which CAST co-sponsored. The scenario predicts that patients around the country will hold a national event to bombard providers with requests for their medical records.
These patients will then complain loudly when providers fail to respond adequately. The scenario may not play out exactly this way, admits Mace. But he’s sure patients will lead the effort to make medical records more common and accessible.
This development will allow EHR developers to increase their staffing capacities and redesign their products. Providers will demand that the redesigned systems make it easier for them to generate EHRs that patients can use.
“We are running the risk of losing the human touch in an age of health tech marvels,” writes Mace. He recommends personalizing the patient experience through videoconferencing, social networking and technology-enabled support groups. When all else fails, a simple phone call between a physician and patient can’t hurt.
Existing teleconferencing equipment is bulky, expensive and underutilized, says Mace. Replacing that equipment with tablets might boost the use of teleconferencing, even in group settings.
Automating medical records that are generated by multiple payers and providers creates a huge potential for fraud. A national patient and provider identification system is the only way to reduce that potential, says Mace. Patients may have to put pressure on legislators to amend current laws that stand in the way of such a system.
Clinicians get so many alerts from their electronic devices that they may be tempted to ignore them. Developers can redesign individual devices, but we also need a systems approach to managing and prioritizing clinician alerts, says Mace.
Technology that helps patients take their medications, exercise and lose weight will become more popular. Patients will reap financial rewards – including savings on their health insurance premiums – if they reach their health goals.
Look for more public health research that analyzes what makes entire cities healthy or sick.
Direct care workers won’t have to sit in classrooms to receive training or retraining. Instead, they’ll become part of virtual classrooms that feature long-distance learning and remote mentoring.
Clinicians and providers will stop promoting technology for its own sake. Instead, they’ll gain a new appreciation for how technology can help them track operational and care-delivery outcomes.