How health IT is changing health care at the point of service

The use of health information technology has radically changed the medical industry, as the widespread use of electronic medical records and other tools will attest.

However, if a company wants to implement health IT, it should look for a carrier that has developed and executed a plan to unlock the benefits of that technology.

“The first step is to change patient care — the whole patient experience — so we can take better care of patients without the hassle of bringing them into the office when we don’t need to,” says Dr. Nabil Chehade, the assistant medical director of medical specialties and the director of medical informatics for Kaiser Permanente. “To be more efficient, basically. The second step is focusing on preventative care.”

Smart Business spoke with Chehade about how health IT has changed the way physicians care for patients, and why these changes matter.

What type of health IT do you use in your work?

All of our physicians do complete documentation of patient information on a common platform. Patients can send secure messages to their doctors as all doctors participate 100 percent. There is no opt-in or opt-out.

We also have a portal called Affiliate Link for our affiliated providers who aren’t part of our medical group. We make it so they can see the clinical documentation even though they are not part of our internal organization and they can respond back and forth as needed.

In addition, we have a homegrown electronic disease registry tool. It pools all the data directly from EMRs as well as other data, like claims, pharmacy, labs and radiology, and puts them together so a physician can take a look at specific patient populations. This allows the physician to look at the prevalent diseases in a population or to see lab results for a population rather than only being able to see data on an individual patient basis.

How does health IT change the way physicians do their job?

In the first couple of years, our physicians were getting acquainted with how to use these tools to replace old processes. Initially it created quite a bit of inefficiency. Suddenly, they had to use a computer; they had to do computerized order entry for labs, x-rays, and prescriptions.

Then we started leveraging the technology to change the way we care for the patient. We started using the tools in a different way.