Dr. Zloto: The outlook for future healthcare technology is amazing but also will be expensive and time consuming
Alan Zloto, D.O. is the owner of a private internal medicine practice in Tampa, FL. In the following entry, he weighs in on how healthcare reform is impacting physician practices.
What impact have recent healthcare reform initiatives, such as the HITECH Act, had on your organization?
We’ve had to convert all files to paperless and purchase electronic medical records which included medical billing and scheduling which are all integrated. In addition, our practice purchased tablet PC’s that enable handwriting recognition so all notes are immediately transcribed. This saves transcription costs but also has a learning curve.
How is your organization moving towards meeting meaningful use criteria? What future impact do you feel the new initiatives will bring?
We are awaiting the upgrade of our software which will allow us to comply with all the requirements of meaningful use. We are in the process of assessing whether our security in place will meet the HITECH standards. We’ve enrolled in the Medicare program for reimbursement, but one problem we’ve encountered was getting onto the PECOS system in order to qualify for the reimbursement program. We found that the Medicare website was not user friendly and trying to find someone to help you was very difficult. We had to go to the supervisory personnel before we were able to get on the program.
What is your outlook on the future of healthcare technology?
The outlook for the future of healthcare technology is amazing but also will be expensive and time consuming. In the future, patients will make appointments on the Web, store their medical records on the Web and have access to all their records through the Internet. This may save time in the long run but it will add more time to the physician’s day as he now will need to see patients, make rounds in the hospitals and then answer all his emails from patients.
Are your patients able to communicate with you via email, and how do you see electronic doctor-patient communications evolving in the future?
Currently we do not communicate with patients via email for the reasons noted above. Under meaningful use requirements patients will be able to request their medical information and this will be supplied to them, under federal regulations, within three business days. This will be enabled in our updated software, but is just another form that needs to be filled out.
Alan Zloto, D.O. is the owner of Town and Country Internal Medicine and has been in private practice for over 30 years. He has a master of public health degree in epidemiology from the University of Michigan and received his D.O. from Michigan State University. Dr. Zloto completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at Detroit Osteopathic Hospital.