"That would be it," Tom says. "Now people have developed a system that greatly improves my lifestyle, still has all the documentation, actually improves my ability to communicate with everyone else, and actually allows me to spend more time with patients or seeing more patients or doing the things I need to do, versus going to some fixed station where I have to put in a lot of unnecessary data, except for the fact that I have to bill out."
Too Busy to Innovate
CEP America already uses scribes to try to improve physician productivity. The company bills hospitals for its physicians' services, but must eat the cost of the scribes itself, Tom said. "If we can develop systems that allow us to somehow circumvent our need to put in place all this documentation, that's the type of systems that we're looking for," he said.
I did say Tom is a self-avowed optimist. "I don't mean to sound pessimistic," he told the HIMSS chapter. "What I mean to do is provide you with some understanding of why things have taken the length of time that they've taken in the healthcare industry… every physician, every person, every citizen, is in favor of us being able to extract information [in a short period of time]."
As Tom points out, the changes brought about by healthcare information technology can be threatening. Vendors with little knowledge of what physicians actually do can bring ill-advised solutions to healthcare. Busy clinicians simply may be too busy, or too set in their ways, to explore innovation.