With the Affordable Health Care Act (ACA) signed into law, there will be approximately 30 million new health care patients in the United States. With such an influx, it would be natural to assume that doctors are looking forward to raking in the extra money that will come from their increased visits. Instead, doctors are worried about how the health care management technology will handle the flood of new patients. CareCloud created a fully online management app for doctors to use to manage their finances, and it includes includes allowing patients access to their electronic health record (EHR). Unfortunately, the EHR systems are actually slowing doctors down, making them unable to handle the influx of patients. Coupled with the new ACA regulations, declining reimbursements, and rising costs, doctors are worried that they will not be able to profitably keep up with the imminent increase in patient visits.

Despite the fact that EHR is inefficient, over half of all doctors (paywalled) have already begun using it. The ultimate goal is to steer physicians away from the paper system and toward a purely electronic system that is efficient for sharing patients’ information when necessary. This would be an exciting change for people who move around the country and whose physicians might have little or no record of how they have been treated in the past. However, even the doctors who do use EHR are still using paper for some tasks. They also complain that the system gives them unnecessary warnings, causing simple tasks to take longer than required. Luckily, the EHR system is relatively new, so there is likely room for improvement.

In fact, many new companies are developing new products that doctors will want to purchase to make their practices more efficient. While many companies are likely to compete to create new efficient EHR systems, there are other opportunities for private companies to get involved in the post-ACA world. For instance, within the new health care exchange program, people are going to want to know which plan is best for them. Private companies are currently working on programs that compare plans side-by-side–a welcome alternative to the current system, which requires researching each one separately. While doctors may lose money in the short term while switching to the new technology, it is possible that the new jobs created by start-up companies, and EHR’s hoped-for long-term efficiency gains, will have them earning their desired pay within just a few years.

–Ryan Loofbourrow

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