IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Is Healthcare IT Your Prescription for Success?

With incentives up to $44,000 for physicians that implement EMR (electronic medical records) in a “meaningful way,” the Federal stimulus program has created quite a buzz in the IT channel since its passage. The ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009), which provides additional Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement for physicians that implement the records technology in their practice, creates new opportunities to solution providers to discuss business process improvement. Of course the incentive is a topic to include in the general discussion, but many experienced providers noted it’s not a standalone reason for doctors to invest in new systems.

That was the consensus during today’s Breakaway session: Healthcare 101: An Introduction to Transforming Your Business. During the discussion, some myths were dispelled, while many best practices were shared by the industry expert panelists.

One key point was emphasized; there is no correlation for reimbursement and the cost of an EMR solution. If a provider can provide a cost-effective system that meets the needs of their office, it will allow the physician to best realize the benefits of that component of healthcare technology. Additionally, if EMR is not implemented, the practice may be penalized at a future point in time. Understanding these nuances of the program, and the specific needs of different specialty groups, allows a solution provider to become a respected industry advisor. ARRA and many other healthcare technology opportunities have been a major focus for CompTIA’s Healthcare IT Community.

Recent CompTIA research surveys, one with 3000 US doctors and dentists and another with 300 U.S. IT channel partners, provided some interesting results to consider:

Takeaway #1: Technology is merely a means to an end. At heart, doctors’ offices are businesses and need to be successful, even if non-profit.

Takeaway #2: EMR is still a work In progress, with a tremendous amount of education and technology improvements still required. Growing practices are hard to scale and must improve efficiencies in office procedures if they want to be successful. For example, 57% of physicians’ offices indicated a need to improve the speed of their office processes in the survey. Many practices that had previously implemented EMR were still using it minimally and needed additional automation assistance. Eight out of ten offices also indicated they needed more training, a great opportunity for the right provider.

Takeaway #3: Practices need technological assistance beyond EMR. LCDs, tablet PCs, VoIP and videoconferencing all have a place in medical practices, with the right solution plan in place.

Takeaway #4: Security and compliance are a concern for many doctors. For instance, 57% of physicians in the survey indicated they are concerned with meeting the requirements of HIPPA and 38% are worried about breaches in their networks or computer systems.

Takeaway # 5: Healthcare IT is an opportunity for providers, but those that will be successful must pay attention to specific needs of their prospective clients.  In this survey, 74% of physicians rated their IT solution provider as highly professional and 59% were deemed technically proficient, but their satisfaction level for speed of service delivery was much lower. Providers must pay careful attention to the urgency of response times in the medical field and ensuring SLAs are met is a positive first step.

In addition to the industry research and background, the session included a panel of industry experts, including:

The panel provided several viewpoints on the strengths and challenges associated with healthcare technologies. One area of opportunity is educating doctors and practice managers on compliance rules and the benefits/costs of ARRA (EMR stimulus program). While many physicians want and need the support of a local solutions provider, having at least one employee with the ability to discuss healthcare issues and needs helps ensure success in this vertical. Don’t invest time with the technical team for a medical practice when discussing EMR, go to the practice directors and physicians who deal with the problems associated with healthcare.

While the panel was diverse in makeup, each agreed on the main premises for channel providers. “Selling to healthcare practices based on the stimulus incentives is not the right approach,” said Franklin. “Focus on compliance, workflow and the gains these practices will achieve by implementing the technologies.”

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About the Author

With more than 2,000 members, 3,000 academic and training partners and tens of thousands of registered users spanning the entire information communications and technology (ICT) industry, CompTIA has become a leading voice for the technology ecosystem.

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