David McCormick, Chief Operations & Technology Officer at Premier Family Physicians talks how EHR adoption has changed the way physicians do business.
As medical technology advances, private practice physicians will need someone to help them make sense of it all. People like David McCormick, the chief operations and technology officer at Premier Family Physicians in Austin, Texas, can bring their expertise to bear on everything from electronic health records to patient portals to emerging technologies that promise to change the face of healthcare. A graduate of the C.T. Bauer College of Business in Houston, Mr. McCormick discusses what he sees for the future of healthcare.
You are on the front lines of cutting edge technology for physician practices. What do you see as the biggest challenges facing physicians today in terms of technology?
Many physician practices have now adopted an EMR/EHR. The next step is to start connecting the information gathered in the EHR to other people/entities who need it to coordinate care. This could mean giving a patient access to their data through a patient portal or other healthcare providers access through a local HIE or interface. Visibility and coordination of care are the next steps to slow the rise in healthcare costs.
How has the adoption of electronic health records changed the way physicians do business?
Every other industry religiously gathers critical data and measures key indicators to know if they are meeting goals, etc. Healthcare is just now beginning to do this with broad EHR adoption. The ability to aggregate clinical data into analytical systems, evaluate key quality measures (think PQRS/HEDIS, etc.) that adjust processes and workflows based on this data and develop evidence-based protocols is speeding up the rate of change within practices. Physicians will have to continue to leverage the new tools and processes to gain efficiency. This is similar to the way the rest of the workforce has made technology fueled efficiency gains over the last few decades.
Changing reimbursement models and the shift toward value-based healthcare has led to many changes in private practice. What do you see as the biggest challenges — and solutions — brought about by this shift?
The biggest changes initially will be with primary care. Practices will have to shift from a FFS single visit mentality to a management mentality where we actively work with a patient to manage their health over time. Value-based models require practices to evaluate patient cohorts, stratify risk and create processes and programs to proactively manage a patient’s condition(s) within a community of care. This requires the tools to analyze patient populations, engage with patients in multiple formats and coordinate care within a range of primary care and specialist providers.
What do you see as the most popular health management tools available today? How about the most promising?
There are tons of great tools out there. Two categories I would highlight are patient engagement tools that allow you to communicate with patients via the Web or mobile device and care coordination tools that help you analyze, plan and communicate patient care activities across providers. We have used Medfusion’s patient portal solution with great success in our practice. It allows our patients to message our providers directly, schedule appointments and request refills from the web or a mobile device. Being in a technology savvy city, folks expect this type of capability.
What’s the best part of what you do — the things that make you eager to get to work every day?
I love working with our people. Casting a vision where we work together as a team to change the way healthcare in our community is delivered for the better and serve our patients with exceptional care and customer service is very rewarding. I especially enjoy working with my managers to help them take on the new challenges that are facing our industry.