Healthcare has become so complex in the interplay between disciplines and departments in the same organization that managers for everything from the departmental level to work team have emerged. To meet their needs and that of patients, technology is evolving to make their jobs easier. Here are four ways technology is transforming healthcare management.
Distributed Workforces and Providers
Many patients have visited their primary care physician before being routed to a specialist and then sent on to a lab. Electronic medical health records reduce some of the hassle for patients by collecting these records in one system if someone is using one healthcare network, and sending the digital records to other healthcare providers if not. What has shifted is the utilization of distributed workforces and providers by healthcare networks themselves.
One of the first steps was the outsourcing of medical transcription via uploaded digital files through crowdsourcing platforms like Amazon Mturk. Electronic medical records let facilities send digital X-rays to experts somewhere else in the world.
Centralization of Healthcare Networks
One of the unintended results of Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, was a massive increase in the amount of paperwork doctors had to fill out and the penalties for any type of mistake. The failure to control medical liability insurance, too, threatened many doctors’ ability to stay open. The solution was for private medical practices to close and the doctors became employees of a healthcare network.
This led some doctors to retire to play golf while others re-opened their offices as the local clinic of the medical network centered around the regional hospital. The hospital gained clinics with a local clientele, doctors were able to join organizations with efficiencies of scale for processing government paperwork, and their hospital admitting privileges were essentially unchanged. This shift has driven demand for medical managers deploying administrators and nurses to subsidiary clinics, whereas a small doctor’s office simply had a back-office manager.
Electronic medical health records and their management is becoming a distinct discipline in IT, just as those who support Windows servers or Cisco hardware earn their own industry recognized credentials. Instead of promoting the senior nurse to manage the nursing staff, medical facilities are hiring people trained specifically in healthcare management. This doesn’t preclude healthcare personnel from moving into these jobs. It just means they need to earn an online masters in health administration from the University of Southern California or another online EMHA degree to be considered for the position.
IT in Healthcare
We’ve already touched on the impact of electronic medical records. IT is an increasingly important and complex issue in health care. Patients are recording their own vital data through monitoring devices. Customer relationship management software is being used to add a personalized touch to an increasingly bureaucratic and systemic process of receiving care. Electronic medical records integrate with email and online portals so that patients can see the notes from their latest visit and receive an email or text when their test results are available.
Healthcare has long relied on a distributed network of service providers; the shift is in healthcare providers utilizing distributed networks of service providers themselves. Healthcare networks are shifting from the distributed and independent network to centralized networks centered around hospitals. IT is an integral part of healthcare and its delivery to patients and the rise of specialized areas of expertise is driving the adoption of new credentials, as well as online education programs delivering them.