Article

Benefits of Technology in Healthcare: The Physician Office of the Future

Over the next five years, physician offices are expected to see significant changes as more doctors use existing technologies and implement emerging ones.

Advances in healthcare technology will continue to transform the physician office of the future. Technology has already enabled new efficiencies through data, insights and improved communications.

Improvements include:

  • Electronic health records (EHRs) provide current and complete information securely at the point and time care is delivered.
  • Virtual assistants are qualified professionals who can assist physicians and patients remotely.
  • Artificial intelligence-enabled devices can listen to patient-doctor conversations and capture medical information to help with notes. The devices improve over time as AI learns.

Over the next five years, physician offices are expected to see significant changes as more doctors use existing technologies and adopt emerging ones. Physicians and patients will benefit through more intelligent, up-to-date conversations and diagnosis.

Providing More Convenient Patient Visits

With the help of technologies, including EHRs and virtual assistants, visits can be more streamlined and efficient for both patients and physicians. This can optimize everyone’s time.

A survey found 97% of patients are frustrated by long wait times—with 55% spending 15 minutes or more in the waiting room. Physician offices can provide solutions to reduce the time spent in a waiting room or eliminate that wait altogether.

Solutions include:

  • Mobile check-ins that direct the patient to an exam room without stopping in a waiting room.
  • Filling out forms and providing information before arrival.
  • Physicians digitally accessing patient information before the appointment.

Why Telehealth?

People are accustomed to using technology, from mobile phones to online shopping to ATM banking. Tech-savvy consumers expect the same convenience with healthcare. Learn why this makes telehealth a viable option.

Utilizing Wearable Device Data

Wearable technology such as fitness trackers, smart watches, and FDA-approved medical and implantable devices are gaining popularity among consumers. These devices are the No. 1 fitness trend for 2019.

The wearables market is expected to reach 240.1 million units in 2021, which is twice the amount in 2016, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC). These devices are now extending beyond watches and wrist bands to include earwear, clothing and other wearable technologies.

Wearables are more than just a popular trend. Data collected from these devices can help patients and doctors gain accurate data and real-time insights into patient actions, diets, sleep patterns, heart rates and more. The technologies can help patients stick to wellness goals and a plan, while providing physicians information to monitor patient activities.

Some wearables can alert a patient or physician if the wearer’s vital signs fall below a certain threshold that may require treatment or intervention, or if the person is developing a certain condition. For example, a “smart sock” can alert diabetics if they are at risk of developing foot ulcers.

Wearable technology also allows physicians to stay connected to coworkers and have immediate access to data, replacing a pager or phone system.

Tech-Enabled Virtual Healthcare

Virtual healthcare visits, where the patient and physician are in different locations and communicate via mobile devices or computers, are already available through many insurance plans and health systems. A survey of patients treated through a telehealth clinic found that one-third of respondents preferred telehealth over an in-office visit. By 2022, this industry could reach $3.5 billion in revenues.

A tech-enabled office will reduce the need for in-patient visits, which reduces the frustrations associated with long wait times. It also eliminates the travel, which can be a challenge for the elderly or people in rural areas.

Telehealth can occur through a remote video conversation or where patients submit information, such as health data, symptoms or readings from wearable devices, to a healthcare professional and receive a diagnosis without physically visiting the physician office.

Millennials, those born between 1982 and 2000, are one of the drivers of this trend. This generation doesn’t value face time with doctors as much as previous generations and wants to leverage technology for their healthcare. Millenials are most likely to be interested in telehealth, with 60% of them supporting the use of it. To attract this group, which now comprises the nation’s largest demographic population, physician offices must adapt to current and future patient demands.

What to Know

Doctor offices are experiencing huge technology shifts, including moving from paper files to EHRs and using virtual assistants and AI-enabled devices to turn medical conversations into medical intelligence. Within the next five years, physician offices will transform even more.

Advancing Patient Care and Convenience

In the physician’s office of the future, patients will have more control over their medical records, including what’s shared and who it’s shared with. Patients will also have the ability to view their records anytime and anywhere they’re able to get online. Digital patient records are important to ensure providers have the latest information. In addition, access to digital scheduling and conversations help patients stay in communication with their health plan and providers.

Through technology, transparency and increased information from and for both patients and physicians, patient care and earlier diagnosis will be improved. Technology will also move the conversation from the physician’s office to a time, method and location via digital tools and options that are more convenient for the patient.

Who’s involved in the conversation will also likely change. Currently, most office visits, 97%, involve a patient, family member and physician. In the future, conversations are expected to include a team of healthcare professionals, including nurse practitioners, nutritionists, genetic counselors, pharmacists, therapists, social workers, mental health professionals or exercise coaches. The physicians’ role may evolve to coordinate and deliver services such as procedures.

In the office of the future, physicians and their patients can expect news ways to communicate, less time waiting and more data to help with diagnosis and treatments.

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