I have frequently discussed and outlined the importance of health IT in healthcare. While, there is an obvious need for efficient and cost effective practice in the US, the government cannot ignore the geographic care disparity in certain parts of the country. The US healthcare system suffers from the clustering effect as most independent providers and specialists choose to move towards urbanized locations in search of better opportunities. Having a practice in a remote location is usually not that cost effective for physicians, and as a result community hospitals are overburdened.
However, the recent developments in health IT have enabled the care community to play a more prominent role in curbing care discrepancies throughout the country. Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) are paving the way for coordinated care through health information digitization. Farzad Mostashari, the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology believes that health IT will enable medical professionals to extend their reach, hence catering a wider populous. “You can deliver excellent customer service if you wait for someone to walk in the door and then you go and pull in the charts, or you make a new chart for them. What you can’t do with paper charts is, ask the question, who didn’t walk in the door?.”, says Dr. Mostashari.
“EMRs are helping raise the level of accountability and health management by connecting the physician’s exam room to the patient’s home through Patient Portals.”, says one physician. While EMR adoption is on the rise, Telemedicine and Telehealth is silently establishing its own market. Physicians and hospitals targeting new revenue streams are already setting up virtual clinics.
The US government has also backed telemedicine projects with grants, helping augment growth in the industry. Center for Technology and Aging (non-profit organization) started working with trained pharmacists to help deliver care to the underprivileged populous isolated due to social and language barriers, by using telemedicine. During the 12 month project, they noted a 23% increase in medication adherence, a 24% improvement in therapy outcomes and significant savings from hospital and ER visits avoided.
“Telemedicine is the way forward. Not only would it increase patient convenience and reduce costs, it would help the healthcare industry reach the underprivileged and rural communities.”, says an independent observer. Health IT can definitely help the medical community overcome the geographic barriers and allow medical professionals to do more for the community.
Read more: How Secure is Your EMR?