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What comes to mind when you think about how healthcare has advanced in the last decade? Maybe you think about vaccines that have all but eradicated previously fatal ailments? Or new research surrounding preventative healthcare or social media efforts to encourage disease screening? While advances such as these are revolutionizing our field, there is another area that is also vastly improving the quality and value of patient care: health information technology (health IT).  

This week we've been celebrating National Health IT Week. It is five days dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of health IT to the future of patient care. It’s also an opportunity to share how SourceMed is innovating in the health IT space by developing new solutions that enable the delivery of high quality, cost effective outpatient care.

It’s no secret that the industry is changing. Historically, healthcare has been centered on the physician. But things are moving from a provider-centric space to a patient-focused one. As patients become the axis on which the industry turns, it’s becoming increasingly necessary to adopt new technologies that enhance the patient experience across all facets of care. This is especially true in the outpatient space, where patient services often need to be coordinated among multiple facilities and providers.

Say a patient goes to their physician and finds out they need to have knee surgery. They may be referred by their primary physician to an ambulatory surgery center (ASC) for the procedure, then to a physical therapy provider, and then given exercises to do at home. Over all of those stops, there’s a continuum of care that must be tightly coordinated to create the best outcome for this patient. Among other things, electronic medical records — on a shared, secure and interoperable network — are vital for allowing complete patient health information to be accessed by multiple providers, from hospitals to pharmacies to outpatient facilities, in order to coordinate care.

SourceMed is working to build interoperability across the industry to achieve these advantages. There’s a huge shift in healthcare from hosting data onsite to securely hosting it in the cloud, and we’re leading the charge on this in the outpatient space. Our goal is to make data easily shared and secure, protecting patients and providers, and we’re doing that by partnering with other best-of-breed technology companies, whose solutions are already trusted by the financial and commercial industries for their interoperability and security attributes.

Health IT is also enabling deeper interactions between patients and healthcare providers. The newest crop of solutions are built to not only fit within a provider’s existing workflow, but also make it more efficient and give providers back valuable face time with patients throughout their care. An online pre-admission registration process is one of the simplest examples of how this is being achieved through health IT. With web-based registration, patients have the ability to enter all of their relevant health information — history, allergies, medications, etc. — through a secure portal prior to their appointment date. Not only is it convenient for the patient, saving them time before their appointment, it also often leads to more accurate data input. It also gives clinicians and patients more time to discuss their care and address any concerns, rather than spending it collecting information.

When it comes to the revenue cycle, health IT is making the billing and collections processes more efficient. For example, a billing clerk typically has to call the insurance company to verify coverage for the patient, but with new eligibility tools, outpatient facilities now have real-time access to payer systems and can quickly determine verification and calculate payment responsibilities. By knowing the patient’s payment responsibility upfront, facilities can ask for deductibles pre-procedure, increasing the likelihood of receiving full payment. Other solutions are making it easier to select the most appropriate codes for a clean claim, to manage denials, and even to pinpoint productivity down to an individual biller, all with the goal of streamlining the business side to give clinicians more time to provide care.

Providers are beginning to understand health IT’s benefits and just how much more efficient it can make their work. Furthermore, the learning curve is flattening — more and more healthcare professionals are coming into the industry technology savvy and eager to adopt cutting edge advancements. Looking ahead, health information technology will no longer just be an EMR or the app that is nice to have — it will be a foundational component of care delivery as the industry moves to value-based models. We’re ready for that day. At SourceMed, we’re committed to creating the best health IT solutions for our customers so they can, in turn, create the best patient results.