Paving the Way for Physician-Controlled Performance Data: Two Anesthesiologists' Solution
Larry Scott, MD, has been the managing partner of Anesthesia Consultants of Dallas for nearly two decades. Federico Osorio, MD, a cardiovascular anesthesiologist with a passion for the application of information technology to the practice of medicine, joined the practice five years ago. Dr. Osorio specializes in database architecture and the optimization of data-flow for medical environments as well as the clinical application of mobile devices in the field of anesthesia. Anesthesia Consultants of Dallas operates in 13 facilities throughout the Dallas metro area. As Dr. Scott notes, the group being spread out means it's extremely difficult to keep everyone on the same page, even with a central office. There are several important basic processes that a medical practice must accomplish in order to succeed. The partnership of Dr. Scott’s practice management experience and Dr. Osorio’s IT expertise has permitted them to identify gaps in their practice management processes and to implement IT solutions to remedy those weaknesses.
The government mandated emphasis on patient privacy has created problems that, while not unique to anesthesia, are common in the anesthesia group practice setting, which often spans several institutions and locations. According to Dr. Scott, to complete their billing, the vast majority of group practices take paper copies of patient information away from the hospital or care setting. Paper copies, however, are quite a security gamble in the era of HIPAA. Whether it's a stolen car or briefcase, or even a misplaced record, breaches of patient information are an all-too-common occurrence for hospitals and medical practices.
Combining safety and efficiency
Others have stepped in with electronic systems to solve some of these problems, but any system involving an information download carries the same risk of a data breach. Drs. Scott and Osorio were looking for a more comprehensive and permanent system, rather than a temporary data solutions fix, when they created MD Cloud Practice Solutions. “I wanted a product that would do everything — communication, scheduling, education, etcetera and— at once," says Dr. Scott. Their software solution enables better, safer data sharing for billing and other practice management tasks
The current version of MD Cloud Practice Solutions combines education, voting, scheduling, document signature, billing and more into one package of web and mobile apps. All computing is done through a secure server, so no data is ever actually on a computer or phone, lowering the risk of data breaches. It's also efficient: "The cloud-based technology is HIPAA compliant and permits us to do everything through one application, rather than through 10," says Dr. Scott. "It's a virtual office that frees up our people to focus on their work. They don't need to come to the office except to pick up their snail mail."
Drs. Scott and Osorio have developed these solutions over five years, and have been using them in their own practice during that time. Recognizing that their solutions could have wide commercial applicability, they formed their company in early 2013 with a product that combined document sharing, corporative social network, scheduling and claims submission. Since that time CME, voting, e-signature and secure messaging systems have been added to the product – forming a truly comprehensive practice management system. Company development for MD Cloud has been rapid. The solutions were first marketed in January 2014 at the American Society of Anesthesiologists Practice Management meeting. Now, their existing solutions are in use with two customers through medical billing company abeo, and more products are in the pipeline.
Physicians and the future of data sharing
On a macro level, Dr. Osorio notes the importance of physician involvement in the development of data solutions. He worries that physicians won't have access to the data that may determine physician payment if they don't contribute to data collection and management systems. He says that it's not enough to develop systems with physicians in mind; systems must actively engage physicians in their development and use.
In that regard, MD Cloud is highly physician-centric. The mobile nature of the products ensures physicians have data access that isn't dependent on hospital databases or hardware, so using data for daily operations benchmarking is easy. In addition, physicians can change the product to suit themselves. This feature, according to Dr. Osorio, is designed to avoid the clumsy interfaces of other medical products while encouraging user engagement. "The experience of having to deal with an IT department can be very frustrating. In this way [through self-service], we have placed a powerful and stable platform into an end-user friendly format that the physicians can control and modify themselves.”
"Anyone who deals with patient information in the era of HIPAA had better be thinking about how to safely get the patient care information into their billing and quality management systems. In the future of medicine, being able to collect and control this data will be key. In order to be successful, you will need to be able to demonstrate to payers and to the government the quality of your care," says Dr. Scott.
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