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New Innovations in Technology: Effects of Emerging Technologies on Healthcare Practices

May 2024, Vol 14, No 5
Bettinna Signori, CMOM/HEM-ONC
Regional Practice Administrator
Corewell Health East
Royal Oak, MI

A few weeks ago, while having dinner with my son at one of our favorite Detroit restaurants, I made a comment about how many people had their heads bent over their phones instead of talking with one another. This observation led to an excellent discussion on technology advances and whether I felt things were better now than when I was in college and had to wait in line with hundreds of other students to use a computer at the computer lab. My answer? Yes, technology has improved many aspects of my personal life and my professional life, despite the scars left behind from working to keep up and learn.

Technology, with all the innovations that are regularly introduced to the market, is an integral part of daily life, and the pace of new technologies continues to accelerate. Our World in Data published an article on the pace of changes in technology over time, pointing out that “it took 2.4 million years for our ancestors to control fire and use it for cooking, but 66 years to go from the first flight to humans landing on the moon.”1

Artificial intelligence is here to stay and is being used in almost every area of business, including finance, retail, automotive, and entertainment.

This acceleration of technology was even faster with cell phones, with <10-year span between the first commercially available mobile phone to the Simon Personal Communicator, considered to be the first smartphone available to the public.2 As medical practice leaders, keeping up with the “latest and greatest” in administrative and clinical technological advancements is key to helping address many of our daily challenges. These current and emerging technologies can assist with everything from staffing shortages to patient monitoring.

Most of us have already immersed ourselves in technology. This would include electronic medical records (EMRs) and their upgrades, patient portals, and automated reminder calls and texts, all of which have streamlined many aspects of day-to-day operations. Meanwhile, new and exciting innovations have hit the healthcare market, such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software, which allows practices to market relevant messaging to patients. When integrated with practice management software, CRM can create personalized messaging and patient communications based on these data.3 Business Intelligence Tools analyze data and provide dashboards and reports that identify financial, marketing, and operational trends, which can then allow for operational improvements with practice resources.4 Artificial intelligence (AI) is here to stay and is being used in almost every area of business, including finance, retail, automotive, and entertainment, among others. It is part of what we use daily in our Global Positioning System for driving directions, when we stream music, or when we ask a virtual assistant a question.

AI is also being used in healthcare, from diagnostic technology to healthcare administrative operational tasks. AI can assist healthcare administrators with clerical tasks, such as appointment reminders, insurance claims, eligibility verification, and prior authorizations (PAs), which continue to be a strain on practices that are already short- staffed. According to a 2022 American Medical Association survey report, an average of 45 PAs are done per week per provider and take almost 14 hours of staff and physician time to complete.5 Advances in AI technology have the potential to limit the time burden of completing PAs: by integrating software with the EMR system, most of the manual process can be eliminated. According to a study conducted in 2022 by McKinsey & Company, “… AI-enabled PA can automate 50% to 75% of manual tasks, boosting efficiency, reducing costs, and freeing clinicians at both payers and providers to focus on complex cases and actual care delivery and coordination.”6

EMR Systems have been in use for a few years and are proficient with patient charts, but did you know that most of these systems have a wealth of data and analytics that you can access from the system dashboard? Dashboards provide a comprehensive look into the health of your practice. By taking advantage of the reports, you can get a clear picture of all financial aspects of the practice and identify gaps and trends on issues such as appointment management, coding trends, and accounts receivable. Take the time to explore your EMR dashboard and the reporting functionality—they can help identify opportunities for efficiency and savings.

Next Era of Telehealth—Telehealth exploded during the pandemic and has established a permanent foothold in healthcare. According to an article in the May-June 2022 issue of Harvard Business Review, “When used appropriately, it improves patient health and reduces costs. It also makes care more equitable and accessible to the 89% of US adults and 78% of adults globally who own a smartphone, including those in medically underserved communities.”7 Some of the factors that are driving the expansion of telehealth services are improved technologies, increased use of health wearables, an aging population, convenience of not having to go into an office, and remote patient-monitoring capabilities. As the demand and use of telehealth services grow, so do the software options for practices. Practices can now use videoconferencing platforms, remote patient monitoring, and even mobile health apps to further promote and improve care.8

Technology innovations and breakthroughs in healthcare are positively affecting how healthcare is delivered and how we operate as healthcare professionals. We as practice leaders have the opportunity to implement positive changes as we continue to embrace the ever-advancing innovations in technology. The list above is a small snapshot of the new trends in technology. The trick is to continue to monitor and learn about what is currently trending and what is coming in the near future. Implementing some of these innovations will lead to the one shared goal we all have—to provide best-in-class care to our patients and best-in-class leadership for our providers and staff.

References

  1. World Economic Forum. Emerging Technologies. This timeline charts the fast pace of tech transformation across centuries. February 27, 2023. Accessed April 25, 2024. www.weforum.org/agenda/2023/02/this-timeline-charts-the-fast-pace-of-tech-transformation-across-centuries/
  2. Sager I. Before iPhone and Android came Simon, the first smartphone. Bloomberg. June 29, 2012. Accessed April 25, 2024. www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2012-06-29/before-iphone-and-android-came-simon-the-first-smartphone
  3. SelectHub. Best CRM software of 2024. Reviewed April 22, 2024. Accessed April 25, 2024. www.selecthub.com/c/crm-software/
  4. SelectHub. Best business intelligence tools of 2024. Reviewed April 19, 2024. Accessed April 25, 2024. www.selecthub.com/c/business-intelligence-tools/
  5. American Medical Association. 2022 AMA prior authorization (PA) physician survey. Accessed April 25, 2024. www.ama-assn.org/system/files/prior-authorization-survey.pdf
  6. Al-Haque S, Khanna V, Mandal S, et al. AI ushers in next-gen prior authorization in healthcare. McKinsey & Company. April 19, 2022. Accessed April 25, 2024. www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare/our-insights/ai-ushers-in-next-gen-prior-authorization-in-healthcare
  7. Pearl R, Wayling B. The telehealth era is just beginning. Harvard Business Review. May-June 2022. Accessed April 25, 2024. https://hbr.org/2022/05/the-telehealth-era-is-just-beginning
  8. Scopic. The rise in telehealth technology: a comprehensive guide. May 10, 2023. Accessed April 25, 2024. https://scopicsoftware.com/blog/telehealth-technology/

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