Physician EHR Productivity: Vital to Meet Spike in Demand for Care

Half of the physician group practices recently surveyed expected to buy an EHR system within the next 2 years. In the rush to purchase, however, it is imperative that physicians take the time to carefully assess how each of the EHRs they are considering will impact their productivity. Productivity has always been a major concern in EHR adoption, but demographics and financial factors now conspire to make it increasingly critical. Physicians can no longer afford even the slightest decrease in productivity. Consider the following projections that affect specialists:

  • The demand for joint replacement surgery will soon outstrip the supply of orthopaedic surgeons available to provide it, according to studies presented to AAOS. This is partly the result of an aging population with increasing rates of obesity and arthritis, but the growing demand will also come from a younger population. A full 50% of joint replacements will be sought by people under 65—the physically active baby boomer generation with a high level of physical activity. Not only will first-time joint replacements increase astronomically (rising 673% to 3.48 million knee replacements, and 174% to 572,000 hip replacements by 2030), but the demand for revision joint replacements, (i.e., repair or replacement of artificial joints) will also increase—doubling by 2015.
  • The situation is similar for ophthalmologists. Higher life expectancy will create a demand for 30 million cataract surgeries by 2020. Combined with the downward pressure on Medicare reimbursement rates that will lead some ophthalmologists to limit their practices to medical ophthalmology, the result will be a greater caseload for the remaining surgeons—but these physicians will need a high-volume, highly productive practice to remain financially viable.
  • Dermatologists will see a two- to three-fold increase in skin cancer patients as the population ages, and the demands for their medical services will grow rapidly. Not only will dermatologists be called upon to perform more surgical procedures in their offices, but increased awareness will lead to a higher demand for screening and preventive-care services.

Physician productivity will be critical in the office as well as the operating room, since the number of surgeries performed is directly proportional to the number of office visits conducted. A physician-focused, specialist-oriented, efficient EHR will be key to a physician’s ability to meet the increased demands, satisfy patient needs, and run a financially successful practice. Given the above statistics, it would be fiscally and socially irresponsible to implement an EHR that negatively impacts physician productivity. Now, more than ever, productivity is king.

2 thoughts on “Physician EHR Productivity: Vital to Meet Spike in Demand for Care

  1. Evan Steele, once again, is right on target with his comments, and this is so refreshing coming from someone directly involved in EHR sales and performance. The convergence of ever increasing complicated technology combined with regulatory and insurance requirements demand the EHR to match work flow in the outpatient setting to maintain efficiency, but that is only the beginning. The constantly changing technology environment (wireless network, smartphones and Apps, Cloud technology, interfaces between EHR and devices), demand for more speed and bandwidth, demand for more security (with ever increasing threat of penalties) , increasingly sophisticated hackers, etc. exponentially complicate the ongoing maintenance of the IT systems. Evan Steele always hits these issues head on even at the risk of causing extra concern among the purchasers but always giving sound advice. There is no doubt we will all be using an EHR system 20 years from now, but the more pragmatic we can be with decisions to convert now will decrease the number of bad decisions and the frustration of having to convert a second or third time to get the right system.

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