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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Technology in Healthcare: Adoption, challenges and progress

The adoption of technological advancements, in healthcare or any industry for that matter, varies for a number of reasons and happens along a predictable continuum. When a new technology emerges, there will be people who adopt at the earliest stages (innovators), early adopters, those in the early majority, those in the late majority, and laggards who resist the adoption altogether. The reasons for these different rates of adoption are varied as well. Some see cost as a prohibitive factor. Some do not trust new technologies and want to make sure that they have been fully vetted before bringing them into their own practice. Others are simply comfortable with their current way of doing things and don't seek out a change. 

The result is that there is a lack of coordination of technology adoption across the healthcare industry. Some "bleeding edge" (the very earliest adopters who are chasing the newest technology) providers are already looking at how to leverage technologies like virtual reality in patient interactions. Other providers would not consider such technology in its current form and regard it as oppositional to their patient care philosophy.

Another common example is systems that are not designed to communicate with one another, making it difficult for providers using different technological platforms to share information or transfer data. This is occurring on a large scale as the healthcare industry is experiencing acquisitions and mergers at a pace not seen before. All of this activity means that healthcare systems with different technological approaches will often find themselves joining forces, and the result will be dueling technological systems until a standard can be applied and a process for transfer can happen. All of this leads to challenges and frustrations for the providers trying to continue giving patients the same level of care and service. 

Impact on Revenue 

As healthcare systems adapt to the shift to consumer responsibility for healthcare costs, value-based care models and ever-shrinking operating margins, healthcare providers must consider how new technologies will recover costs. 

Take electronic health records (EHRs), for example. Moving all record-keeping over to an EHR system that is HIPAA compliant and has a user-friendly interface for both providers and patients is an expensive endeavor. This expense has already been absorbed by many U.S. hospitals with 96% possessing a certified EHR system and 84% adopting at least a basic EHR system. It’s been noted that the incentives provided for EHR adoption have fallen short of the true costs, so it’s no wonder that hospitals are looking for the technology to provide an ROI — specifically by improving EHR workflow and point-of-care documentation for more complete charge capture.

These systems are capable of improving communication and can contribute to better patient record documentation, and more complete and accurate billing — but in order to have an impact on revenue, EHRs rely on access to current, accurate and expansive data. Utilizing this technology to improve revenue and access analytics that define the cost of care is more important than ever to recoup the cost of implementation.

The healthcare industry has a lot to gain by intentionally and intelligently adopting technological practices that can improve outcomes. A well-designed plan of action with the resources in place to make it a success must be crucial components of any technological progress in the healthcare industry.

Learn more about how GHX delivers clean accurate and up to date data to help hospitals save money and generate revenue.

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