Health IT could drive demand for physicians

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While the adoption of electronic medical records, innovative healthcare inventory management systems and other health IT solutions has been difficult for physicians, a new study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and The Commonwealth Fund found embracing such technologies could increase the demand for their services

More technology means more patients
Deploying new health IT systems certainly isn't cheap for today's community-based doctors. After launching these platforms, it is important that physicians achieve higher productivity levels. The researchers estimate that once EMRs and other e-health solutions are deployed in just 30 percent of local doctor offices throughout the country, healthcare providers will be able to care for nearly 10 percent more patients. The looming physician shortage is making it imperative for doctors to take on bigger workloads. With health IT innovations, doctors are able to do just that.

"When all of these likely effects are added together, it is clear that health IT will help resolve future physician shortages that many believe are around the corner," said the study's lead author Jonathan Weiner, professor of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School and director of the Center for Population Health Information Technology.

With 70 percent of office-based physicians already using EMRs in some fashion, it is only a matter of time until the widespread adoption becomes a disruptive force in the healthcare field. Doctors have to be prepared to utilize these innovations and maximize their potential without seeing dips in their productivity and efficiency.

Health IT boosts efficiency levels
Not only will these new systems give doctors the opportunity to see more patients on a daily basis, telemedicine and secure patient-doctor digital communication has the potential to enable physicians to remotely administer roughly 12 percent of their care. However, that number goes up or down depending on how doctors and their patients adopt electronic systems for healthcare. Physicians must be forward-thinking and have a strategy for how they plan to use health IT solutions.

"It is essential that workforce planning analyses provide policymakers and stakeholders with evidence and ideas that support rational decision making and preparation for a future that is likely to be dramatically different from the past," said study co-author Dr. David Blumenthal, president of The Commonwealth Fund and the former National Coordinator for Health IT for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.