By Dr. David Hogarth, PT, DPT, Director of Clinical Services at Fusionetics
In their recent book How Google Works, Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg note that technology has shifted the balance of power in business from companies to consumers. They also describe the concept of Combinatorial Innovation. This occurs when the combination of available component parts provide opportunity for great advancement. In the 1800s, various combinations of gears, pulleys, cams, and chains helped facilitate the industrial age. In the 1900s, the gasoline engine empowered a wide range of machines and efficiency.
There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of mobile apps and software packages that are hoping to help you move your practice forward with technology. It will be overwhelming if you just dive into looking at all the options. If we were to attempt to list and describe all the options in this article, not only would it take much more space than you have time to read, it would also be old news within a week. Therefore, it is best to step back and consider the practice as a whole to identify areas which can benefit from a technological boost.
First thoughts may go to integrated scheduling, billing, and documentation software. These options have been around for a while, are internal systems, and generally struggle to engage consumers. Therefore, they are not really positioned for the innovation we are striving for. Optimally, any technology used in a clinical facility should contribute to more clients and more revenue opportunity per client.
Consider the primary phases of your clinical work with any client. A standard client flow involves periods of testing, data analysis, treatment planning, and program delivery. Each of these key client phases presents opportunity to optimize technology for client engagement and business development.
Each client begins with an evaluation, a phase of testing and data collection. We talk, we observe, we measure. True, it’s not novel to use technology to help with this. X-rays, pictures of posture, digital goniometers, dynamometers, and various other tools have existed for years. The key technology point for testing is a software application which stores all the collected data in an efficient, organized manner. Fusionetics, for example, stores and presents the clinician and client with clear organization of data points throughout the body.
One of the components of this Combinatorial Innovation period is proliferation of information. The amount of published literature on human movement science has essentially tripled in the past five years. For instance, keeping track of the ever developing patho-kinesiologic evaluation model can be a daunting task. Electronic Medical Records, by definition, store the collected data, but they essentially just stand next to you and hold your notes. Optimally, technology would help you think by comparing data points to evidenced based algorithms; this is where many EMRs struggle to keep up. In contrast, a system such as Fusionetics stores a wealth of evidence based data points regarding movement imbalances.
Accurate analysis of all the collected information is key for the patient outcome. Anyone can document what is wrong, but it takes clinical skill (and sometimes art) to analyze the data and determine the optimal plan. As information is more readily available, we know there are many data points worth collecting. Technology systems which help us analyze some of those data points reduce the burden upon our memory. A skilled clinician will know what to do with a patient, but technological assistance can be leveraged to create a checklist to make sure everything is accounted for.
Predicative analytics and complex treatment algorithms are stored in Fusionetics. When this is linked with a broadly integrated range of treatment options, the technology facilitates automated programming. This is the treatment planning phase, and now there are two skilled minds working for your client, yours and your software’s. You always have the final say, but it’s nice to have a wingman making a comprehensive, organized, and evidenced-based suggestions.
The final and most important phase is program delivery. It is said that even the best laid plans go awry and the clinical treatment plan is no exception. Compliance with treatment plans is always linked to outcomes. More and more third party payers are moving towards pay for performance based systems. For instance, HHS has recently announced efforts to tie 30% of Medicare payments to outcome based models by 2016 and 50% by 2018. (Burwell, 2015) Additionally, United Healthcare unveiled plans to increase its number of accountable care programs by almost 50% and they already have 11M beneficiaries in this model.
Client compliance with treatment plans becomes even more important as much will depend upon client engagement. Practices that will thrive need to optimize client compliance and thus outcomes. Again technology can be leveraged here. Schmidt’s and Rosenberg’s ever more powerful consumer requires accessible individualized data, ease of access to treatment, a socially enabled platform, and electronic accountability. Engage your clients where they live – on their phones – via a treatment app which facilitates your plan of care and you are on your way to leveraging technology in your practice.
In summary, there is great opportunity to utilize technology in today’s medical practice in order to focus on the client as the end consumer. Wading through all the software and apps which perform individual functions in the various phases of client care can be challenging. An optimal solution is to find a software and app combination which does all of the above. Start here to find your solution.
References: Burwell, SM. Setting Value-Based Payment Goals – HHS Efforts to Improve US Health Care. New England Journal of Medicine, 2015; 372:897-899; Ross, E. UnitedHealthcare Enrolls 11 Million in Accountable Care Programs. Online, 2015.; Schmidt, E & Rosenberg, J. How Google Works. Grand Central Publishing. 2014
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