There are numerous reasons to be excited about the future of concierge medicine. Aside from the personalized and thorough approach to patient care and freedom from administrative/insurance burdens, recent advancements in technology have enhanced the physician’s ability to provide specialized, focused, and ongoing care in real-time.
The latest fruits of the health technology revolution lend well to the concierge model. For today’s concierge practices, getting the right technology in place is extremely important. We recently discussed how advanced blood pressure monitoring devices are transforming patient care. In this post, we discuss additional technology considerations for concierge physicians.
#1: Patient Communication Options
Within the concierge model, much of patient-doctor communication occurs remotely, utilizing technology such as text/sms, video conferencing, and email. While this provides an excellent way for almost instantaneous communication to take place between the doctor and patient, there are several important considerations in regard to patient privacy and security. It is important to ensure that you are in compliance with HIPAA regulations and following security best practices to ensure that patient privacy is honored.
#2: Patient Monitoring Devices
Wearables such as the FitBit and Jawbone have taken the market by storm and it appears that they are here to stay. While many of us are familiar with fitness devices intended to track individual activity and athletic performance, there are many more available to help physicians and patients track vitals in real-time, including blood pressure, heart rate, pulse ox, glucose monitoring and sleep patterns. Given that patients don’t always monitor themselves well, record and bring in the data, or make the best historians, utilizing these devices can give you the information you need to offer the highest level of care.
#3: Devices to Enable Mobile Checkups
As we mentioned earlier, your concierge practice may require you to conduct appointments with patients remotely. While a remote visit does not fully replace an in-person exam, there are devices to help you conduct an exam remotely. Aside from vital checks mentioned above, companies such as ThinkLabs One offers an accessory for connecting a stethoscope to your mobile device, tablets, or computer. Other companies offer eye examinations (EyeNetra), ear examinations (Cellscope / Ototscope), and quick EKG strip to screen for arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation/flutter (AliveCor), all utilizing mobile devices. According to a recent study,
“With regard to using a smartphone to perform other tests, such as eye and ear examinations in place of an office visit, nearly one half of patients would consider doing so, while only about one-third of doctors would be willing to accept information from patients’ smartphones in place of office visits.”
As technology further expands and develops, I expect to see a tremendous growth in these type of resources available to the physician and the public.
#4 Electornic Medical Records (EMR) Access
With all the high tech devices currently on the market, and soon to be developed, a medical practice must have an EMR capable of integrating and synchronizing all this data. The EMR should always be able to adapt to this evolving technology. Just as the Primary Care Physician is considered the gatekeeper to patient healthcare, the right EMR is the gatekeeper to daily patient care for the Physician. The better the EMR, the better the work will flow through a practice, and the happier the physician, staff, and patients will be.
Do you have constant access to patient records? If not, you should. A successful concierge practice is defined by access. As a concierge physician, you might receive a call from a patient at any time, anywhere. This means that you need to be able to log in to your EMR system from any device or location. Another thing to think about: access isn’t just important to the doctor. Patients want to be able to view their records and book an appointment at their will. For this reason, it is important to choose an EMR system that provides remote access to patients as well.
Remember, technology does not exist to replace a physician, but rather to enhance the ability to monitor and deliver the highest level of patient care in the most efficient manor possible. Have you used any of the above types of technology in your practice? Share your experience in the comments section below.