How Medical Professionals Can Integrate Technology to Improve their Practice
Recent technological advancements can unlock new opportunities for medical professionals to serve patients efficiently and effectively.
11:52 30 June 2020
The medical industry has continually benefitted from technological advancements through the decades. From improved sanitation procedures to ingenious devices like MRIs and x-rays; all of these discoveries have led to great improvements in patient care and the treatment of serious diseases.
As the world progresses through the 21st century, what new technologies can medical professionals adopt to achieve the best patient outcomes?
If you're a physician or doctor — regardless if you're engaged in private or group practice — the following ideas may help you improve your practice.
Make medical information more accessible online
As people increasingly rely on the internet — specifically Google searches — to find out about potential ailments they may be suffering from, medical professionals must find ways to make information more accessible. There are several benefits in doing so:
- Minimize reliance on erroneous information - As a practicing medical professional, you have an opportunity to share your expert knowledge about a host of health-related subjects to a wide audience. You could be an authoritative voice on certain health issues.
- Avoid unnecessary patient visits - People who merely want to find surface-level information about common symptoms and diseases are not necessarily the best patients to devote your time to. Depending on your field of expertise, you can provide online resources (e.g. blogs, short videos) which they can easily access by themselves.
- Focus on patients who do need urgent attention - By freeing your schedule from avoidable patient visits, you can dedicate most of your time to patients who are in need of in-depth diagnosis or urgent care.
There are several ways to make well-researched medical knowledge and insights more accessible. You can build a website for your practice. It's a good platform to publish helpful blogs, simple how-to-guides, and informational videos. Additionally, you can also incorporate social media platforms like LinkedIn or Facebook.
As the name implies, telemedicine is essentially healthcare delivered through the aid of telecommunications tools. Nowadays, there are a variety of devices and digital platforms that can facilitate communication over long distances.
For one, this can help practices reduce operational costs from in-office visits. Another benefit is from the patient's perspective — travelling to see the doctor would no longer be necessary. Aside from cost savings, patients can avoid long lines and waiting for hours in a facility.
During a time when parts of the country are implementing quarantine measures to quell COVID-19, telemedicine can offer a viable solution for affected areas.
Some ideas on how to incorporate telemedicine:
- Review assets and resources- Identify if your practice already has existing equipment that can enable an effective approach to telemedicine. If not, you might have to allocate a portion of the budget for that purpose.
- Find viable communication channels- See what digital tools or platforms are the easiest for you and your patients to adopt. The demographic you serve will be a major factor for this.
- Monitor process improvements and other factors- Track your progress as you implement your telemedicine strategy. Determine if the workflow is now more efficient and if there are any substantial cost reductions.
- Go paperless with electronic medical records
More industries are abandoning paper-based documentation and the medical industry is no exemption. With electronic medical records (EMR, sometimes referred to as "electronic health record or EHR"), medical professionals ensure that patient information is stored and shared efficiently through a digital medium.
A reliable EMR platform or service helps you:
- Collect complete information about patients throughout the healthcare process
- Maintain patient confidentiality by securely sharing information
- Cross-reference patient information with a larger digital database to support a diagnosis
- Reduce the likelihood of duplicate information and redundant workflows
- Reduce the negative impact on the environment
Integrating EMRs into your practice is a major decision and there are several factors to consider.
For instance, it's crucial to review your existing information storage systems. Are you mainly using physical documents or a mix of paper and digital? Your answer to these questions will help inform your strategy in transitioning to an EMR system. If you have a large amount of patient information on record, it may be wise to work with external IT professionals or EMR experts to help you migrate efficiently.
Another factor to ponder is cybersecurity. Depending on which platform or service provider you go with, will they provide you with sufficient protection against data breaches? Since you'll be handling digital copies of patient records, you must take steps to ensure confidential information is only accessible to authorized individuals or groups.
A quick glance at the future of healthcare
In the next few years, it's likely we'll see increased adoption of these technologies.
As there is still no vaccine for COVID-19, movement and travel will be limited across several parts of the country in the foreseeable future. Digital tools and platforms will allow medical professionals to work around these challenges and still deliver quality healthcare services.