Technology changing face of the healthcare industry

The need to implement IT systems to support ongoing healthcare operations has been apparent for a while. However, the impact of innovative healthcare solutions on the industry as a whole has been more difficult to predict. Using EHRs and data sharing tools to improve patient care is a simple and forthright goal, but it has begun to affect the underlying foundation of healthcare.

According to a recent report from EHR Bloggers, the rise of IT within the healthcare industry is leading to the demise of single-physician practices and a major increase in the number of medical organizations with a larger number of doctors functioning in concert. This is allowing the industry to better embrace new technologies, such as healthcare system integration, while also making it easier for patients to receive better care within a single facility as primary care physicians and specialists are increasingly working together.

Citing a 2007 study from the Center for Studying Health System Change, the news source explained that single- and two-physician offices are rapidly declining in terms of their percentage of the market landscape, with mid-size care facilities becoming far more prominent. This information is backed by a more recent study by the BDC Advisors, which found that the number of hospital-owned care facilities has been rising, while physician-owned centers have been dwindling. The data compiled in the study is from the Medical Group Management Association, which means it has a somewhat limited scope. But the conclusions of the Center for Studying Health System Change and the BDC Advisors studies show a clear trend in the industry.

EHR Bloggers reported that much of the foundational change in the makeup of care centers has come as a result of technology. With integration becoming more important and EHRs emerging as a mainstream care tool, it makes more sense to consolidate physicians into mid-sized practices that can better implement innovative technologies and give patients access to improved care opportunities.

Like the move toward mid-sized practices, the ongoing efforts to improve EHR adoption rates and implement bi-directional integration between hospitals, clinics and physician offices are aimed at improving patient care. Data sharing facilitates collaboration, allowing doctors to make better decisions pertaining to patients. However, it also improves operational functions within a care center. This makes it easier for physicians to manage their time more efficiently, adding another element to the improved patient care landscape.