Why It’s Hard to Motivate Doctors to Change

Joel Fine, MD

I believe everyone should have access to better healthcare, but maybe the conversation should begin with how can our patients have better access to THEIR own healthcare. As physicians, we need to get creative. We need to find new, innovative ways to reach out and communicate with our patients. The question becomes, “How can a doctor create a satisfying experience in healthcare for his patients?” The answer has to be “with technology.” Only by finding a way to involve technology can we truly improve care, but it’s not always that easy.

I recently had my wife watch me interact with a paper chart, through a pretend office visit, so she could see how I work. I flipped back and forth literally 50 times. Left side. Right side. Medications. Allergies. Labs. Medical problems. New complaints. Old complaints. Last x-ray and bone density check. Vaccination history. If I were to do that with a computer, every time I want to change windows, I have to wait for the page to load, as it retrieves information from the cloud. That’s not conducive to my normal human activity because it’s not something computers are designed to do and yet, I’m here to tell you that it’s important to learn new technology.

Notice I said, “learn.” That’s a frustrating word when you are in your 40s and 50s, this learning thing,because we as physicians are teachers. We have an inherent conflict in our inner selves, a frustration with learning, because we’re good at teaching. After all, the word “physician” originates from the Latin word for “teacher.”

I always tell my students that to motivate a doctor, you need to help them get one of three things out of practicing medicine in order to make it worthwhile:

  1. You gain personal satisfaction.
  2. Your patient gives you appreciation for the task you’re doing.
  3. You have a good financial incentive. You are paid to do this.

If I’m not personally satisfied, I have to be financially satisfied. I treat everyone like family so, from a customer point of view, I don’t want to charge my patients for something I wouldn’t pay for myself as a patient. As a consumer, I want to have a satisfying experience with my healthcare so I try to deliver the same to those who engage with my practice.

I now use teleconferences and video conferences with my patients and also have secure messaging through Hello Health on my computer. All of these provide me with new methods of improving access for my patients – and saving time for me. Today, for example, I completed my labs in between meetings and during my lunch break so that yesterday’s labs were communicated back to my patients within 18 hours of them having their blood drawn. That’s almost unheard of, but it is possible if an office and its staff have the right tools in place.

Healthcare information technology allows me to give my patients want they want: engagement with me via email, web chats and ready access to medical records, all for no added cost. The market needs more than better technology – there needs to be a practical, portable business model that helps practices make more money from existing patients or develop new revenue centers without increasing risk or affecting patient care. My practice utilizes the Patient Management Platform offered by Hello Health to help manage patient experiences, relationships and outcomes. Because it is customizable, it also helps me reduce uncompensated time, reduce costs and increase time billed.

As doctors, we’re looking for a system that’s interactive. We don’t want hard, cold typing equipment but rather are looking for a platform that enables us to do things our way, without changing workflow. The technology I’ve implemented in my practice allows me to provide excellent clinical care, while also helping me stay in business profitably, for the long term. And yes, I’m becoming more comfortable with the word “learn.”

Dr. Joel Fine, Fine & Associates Internal Medicine Specialists, can be reached at contactus@mydrfine.com or (770) 736-8962 or visit www.mydrfine.com

Read the original article on Atlanta Hospital News and Healthcare Report – July 2012

About the Author
Hello Health

Hello Health helps practices be more efficient and increase patient engagement through a comprehensive and affordable EHR, Practice Management system and Patient Portal.