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Understanding the Role of Technology in Patient-Provider Relationships

Added on 17 Dec 2015

Authors: Dr. Leckraj Amal Bholah; Reviewed by Joaquin Blaya, PhD

Technology is re-engineering the healthcare process. As Electronic Health Records (EHR) progress from basic data collection tools to data analyzing tools, it becomes important to understand the role of technology in patient-provider relationships.

While technology can ease the burden of paperwork, time constraints and costs, it inevitably changes the way patients interact with their providers. One example is how text messaging improve medication adherence which has an important implication in the management of patients taking medication for the prevention of chronic disease.1 Another example is eVisits that not only save patients’ and doctors’ time, but is also estimated to have saved the healthcare industry up to $5 billion in 2015 alone.2

Due to this debate of the benefits and disadvantages of technology in the patient-provider relationship, this panel examined ways of ensuring more positive outcomes.

Key Points

  • EHR adoption by US physicians is on the rise.
    • 78% of office-based physicians in the U.S had adopted some type of EHR, and 48% had the capability to implement a basic EHR system.
    • However, there are gaps in EHR adoption with physician in solo practices, and non-primary specialties lagging behind others.3
  • Mobile technologies such as SMS, email, and video chat provide new venues for communication with patients, however there is a lack of policies and consensus regarding their use.
  • Patients seem to prefer healthcare providers that have good eHealth services. Innovation thrives when there are markets with open competition and choice.
  • Change management is important and there might be corporate resistance for change. Many companies have a culture of risk aversion, which is reflected in many policies to avoid possible breaches and compliance problems. This attitude put roadblocks for innovation and development of new technology-driven services.
  • There is a need to make sure that while designing systems that a mobile-first approach is adopted.
  • There is a lot of entrepreneurial energy looking at very difficult problems in healthcare and changing how we think about delivering care.
    • There is a need for leaders willing to manage risk at reasonable levels and take on innovations.
    • Startups need to negotiate with healthcare systems to scale up. However, they need to be resilient to be able to challenge the status quo. There is a need to innovate, and at same time stay relevant and influential. Innovations need to be translated into solutions that can be scaled.
  • Technology should be adapted to the provider’s workflow to be adopted successfully.
  • A user commented that the next recession might close down several large US hospitals as a result of inability to finance its cash-flow.
  • Lack of information is a key element for inefficient health systems.

Key Resources

References

  1. Wald D, Butt S, Bestwick J. One-way versus two-way text messaging on improving medication adherence: meta-analysis of randomized trials. Am J Med. 2015;128(10). Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26087045.
  2. eVisits: the 21st century housecall. Deloitte TMT Prediction 2014. 2014. http://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/technology-media-and-telecommunications/articles/2014predictions-eVisits.html.
  3. Furukawa MF, King J, Patel V, Hsiao CJ, Adler-Milstein J, Jha A. Despite Substantial Progress In EHR Adoption, Health Information Exchange And Patient Engagement Remain Low In Office Settings. Health Affairs. 2014;33(9):1672-1679. Available at: http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/early/2014/08/05/hlthaff.2014.0445.abstract.

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