“We’re just a small practice of five physicians,” was the answer the managing physician of an allergy and asthma practice gave me. I had asked him about conversations with his referral partners in the context of an impending EHR selection process and the due diligence that must go along with it.
That kind of response certainly resonates today with independent physician looking at EHR adoption in the face of the practice’s business continuity. The relationships in a continuity of care matter not just for patients but for that practice in building a pathway that at least resembles a connection to patient-centered medical home (PCMH), irrespective of formal participant in this model of care.
Dr. Michael Foggs, President-Elect of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) clearly emphasized the value of relationships in care and the strategic use of EHR in his recent comments at the group’s annual meeting:
This kind of annual meeting is giving allergists an opportunity to rethink their careers in the context of evolving technology and knowledge about immunobiology and, at the same time, take advantage of opportunities to inform the public and industry that they are equipped already to move into a new position, to take advantage of new opportunities, and to focus on missed opportunities.
Not taking into account the needs and opportunities of the clinic and the community it serves throughout the EHR adoption process is a serious mistake. It’s about than just avoiding buyer’s remorse which is the result of an EHR selection and implementation process made hasty by a desire to get something in place for the sake of meaningful use incentives or poorly informed by simply going with a particular vendor that a colleague uses.
While these concerns are real and important, the more valuable conversation is aptly summed up by another comment by Dr. Foggs:
In terms of expanding our breadth and depth, I am promoting this notion that allergists need to take claim of any disease that they have expertise in managing — not at the exclusion of other specialists and subspecialists, but we need to make it known that we are experts.
The true meaningful use of EHR systems can be found in every clinic no matter how many physicians represent the practice. Whether the claim on the expertise happens at a national conference or right in a meeting room within the clinic, it is a critical part of the sustainability of the clinic and the strategic use of EHR.
Just as with the continuum of care, the EHR vendor relationship can be summed up by one last comment from Dr. Foggs:
The objective is not to generate a “them against us” mentality, but the fact of the matter is, if allergists don’t look out for themselves, nobody will. In a nonantagonistic fashion, allergists must be mindful of the new rapids that have to be navigated in the healthcare paradigm, understand what the pitfalls are, and understand what the opportunities are.
I would only add that this perspective is not limited to allergist and immunologists when considering the culture of care and the EHR.
Robert Green is the author of Community Healthcare: Finding a Common Ground with New Expectations in Healthcare. Through his physician client relationships, Bob has gained substantial insight regarding the daily challenges that medical professionals and their staffs face, such as regulatory issues, financial management, and clinical collaboration through the use of health IT. His process of making both interpersonal and purposeful connections within the organization results in improved employee performance and confidence and enhanced client experience.