Small Healthcare Practices Need Managed Services Help

The New York eHealth Collaborative, a public-private group that promotes health IT adoption, has been holding a series of conferences in cities across the state. The April 28 event in Syracuse was geared toward physicians and practice managers, but there were a few takeaways for managed service providers and other channel partners pursuing healthcare.

Here’s the run down:

Small-practices need help. The general consensus holds that small, privately-owned practices (ten or fewer physicians) have the lowest technology adoption rate and the greatest need for IT support. Technology selection presents a challenge: hundreds of electronic health record (EHR) systems vie for customer attention. Dr. David Duggan, chief quality officer at Upstate University Hospital and president of the Onondaga County Medial Society, suggested that physicians get help to narrow the choices.

EHR requires long-term support. Once a system is selected and installed, the tough slog truly begins. The shift from paper charts to EHRs marks a new way of doing business. The transition typically results in a productivity hit: doctors see fewer patients while learning the new system and business process. Dr. Samuel Gooldy, who practices family medicine in New Hartford, N.Y., compared the first six to eight months of a project to a “steep hill.” He added, however, that practices can save a significant amount to time and energy if they make the right automation moves.

Docs are pressed for time. Declining reimbursements means physicians are under pressure to see more patients. That doesn’t leave much time for technology evaluation and deployment. While that situation would seem to favor hosted solutions, service providers can’t assume the cloud as a default position. Conference attendees said some small practices still prefer on-premise solutions.

Dates on the calendar are closer than they appear. Practices with Medicare patients must begin e-prescribing by June 30 or face a 1 percent Medicare payment reduction. Practices must electronically send at least ten prescriptions by the June deadline to avoid the penalty. If your provider customers have lagged on e-prescribing this would be a good time to get them moving.

For more info: The New York eHealth Collaborative will hold additional summits in Fairport (May 11), Buffalo (May 12), Farmingdale (June 16), and West Point (June 17).

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