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2014: Health technology becomes reality

December 05, 2013
From the December 2013 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

While this will mean disruption for practices that plan to switch in the short-term, the ultimate advantage is that the remaining EHRs on the market will be better able to evolve in an industry of rapid change. Furthermore, those solutions will be more effective, more efficient, and easier for providers to adopt. With clear alternatives, the EHR vendors that emerge will have greater pressure to provide better features at lower costs, leading to cheaper options for providers who have resisted the high cost of adopting traditional EHRs.

Independent practices will become more networked
Between the rise of EHR adoption and the emphasis on interoperability with Meaningful Use Stage 2, smaller practices will soon have more tools to connect and coordinate their care efforts. EHR technology will not only allow them to participate in value-based payment initiatives that can drive more effective care, but it will also allow them to actually coordinate care within ACOs and other organizations in a meaningful way. Standards for and the ubiquitous availability of physician-to-physician and physician-to-patient messaging functionality for Meaningful Use Stage 2 will lay a foundation for improved patient engagement and innovative payment models. Further, advances in connectivity between independent practices and important partners, such as laboratories and imaging centers, will further improve care coordination activities with integration into the clinical workflow and reduction of errors and administrative burden.

While the change ahead poses challenges to these practices – especially those facing Meaningful Use pressures and the need to switch EHRs – this coming year will also bring major refinement of the technologies and approaches that providers have implemented in their practices. As a result, we’ll see independent practices providing more innovative, more networked, and higher quality care—all the promises of health technology, at last realized.

About the author: As Senior Health Policy Advisor at Practice Fusion, Lauren Fifield manages government relationships and monitors an ever-changing landscape of legislation, regulation, and health industry antics. She advocates for policies that promote the transformation of health care delivery through innovation in health IT and serves on the Executive Committee of the Electronic Health Record Association. Before joining the team, she managed health policy and government affairs for athenahealth, Inc., a provider of web-based software and services to ambulatory providers.

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