South Florida Hospital News
Monday August 10, 2020
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June 2006 - Volume 2 - Issue 12
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Business Muse Ö Reflections on the Business of Healthcare Delivery

The noted economist Paul Romer said "Everyone wants economic growth, but nobody wants change."

Whether we like it or not the business of healthcare delivery is undergoing major changes. Many of these involve the use of new business technology. For some reason, and I will not go into my opinion at this time as to why, physicians will embrace technology readily to use on their patients but are more reticent to embrace technology for improving their own business.

Since I started practice years ago the use of in office PFTís, CTís, MRIís, and laparoscopic surgery (just to mention a few) were readily received by most docs as they became available. Yet it took years to get the same docs to use practice management systems and even fax machines. Now these are commonplace in practices. However it seems that the lessons of waiting and being mired in inertia, unable or unwilling to grow with the new technology available for the business of the practice were never learned.

Most businesses understand that advances in technology and their attendant increase in efficiencies help to increase the bottom line and decrease the threats imposed by regulations and reviews. This concept seems to be lost on most providers. They seem to be stuck to the idea that, for a practice, only equipment for which reimbursement is available, and able to recoup its cost in X amount of time, is what they should be looking at. These providers fail to see the whole picture.

For example the use of an EHR (electronic health record) can free up significant office space that handled files, save the cost of making copies, help easily verify services, create easy review of physician extenders, allow for file access off premises at any time, and save the expense attached to the time personnel retrieve and pull files. Even reports from other offices can be e-faxed to you and attached to the appropriate record. Integrated with a two way communication to a modern practice management system an EHR can increase the flow of information, including CPTís and ICD-9ís, can generate automated billing and decrease the attendant personnel cost. The result is savings, and savings like income increases the bottom line. But it is even more. The personnel now freed are able to perform tasks that can enhance revenue and increase profit.

But what has been the reception of such technology. Luke warm at best. The technology is only in about 15% of practices currently. The government, insurers, and most medical associations are recommending and even pushing for increased use. Eventually they will get your attention by tying it to reimbursement. But as the director of your business (the practice) you should have moved on this long before that because it is good for your business. Here the operative words are "good for your business". You could have taken a "job" but instead you decided to enter the business of practice. Isnít it time, that having entered the business, you respond as a business. Systems like an EHR will help your business grow. You just need to accept change. Both the changes imposed on your business, and change as to how you perceive what is viewed as a profitable addition to your business.

Look to an EHR, or start with an imaging system to control and remove old paper records. There are many programs available that we at PHC recommend and are affordable for any size practice. The important point is to begin to embrace the changes in business modalities available for todayís practice. Romer is right nobody wants change. Change is not easy. Nothing truly worthwhile is. But, change is necessary for economic growth.

PHC solicits and appreciates questions of a business nature relating to Practice Development, Managerial Solutions, and the Integration of Technology in healthcare services and delivery to address in future columns. Please address your questions to PHC at info@myphcadvisor.com
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