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Primary Care's Inevitable Reboot

Dr. Paul Helmuth, the medical director of TimeDoc Health, has spent years understanding the value of technology in primary care. Since working in healthcare information technology (IT), he’s watched the overall approach to primary care fall behind. His insights on barriers in primary care and how technology addresses them help us understand the value of TimeDoc Health solutions.

Learn more about these insights from the guest contributions Helmuth made to KevinMD.com.

Dr. Paul Helmuth’s Take on Primary Care Issues and the Needed Reboot

In a guest article on KevinMD’s site, Dr. Paul Helmuth writes about a shift in the primary care experience thanks to technology developments. He starts by assessing the current issues primary care providers face and why organizations clearly need a reboot in their approach.

During the pandemic, tens of thousands of physician practices closed for financial reasons, proving that current approaches to long-term care are not long-term enough. Helmuth points to the value of knowing the patient, and how many physicians often don’t know them as much as they should. Even with trust in their physicians, patients live in a world where every app and platform leverages data to get to know them. Comparatively, physicians are in the dark.

This fact begs the question, how can physicians leverage patient information to know them better? Dr. Helmuth references electronic health records (EHR) and how they’re often underused with out-of-date technology. Developments in primary care technologies can streamline this data management and make it far more valuable than just a collection of data tucked away. Physicians can use this information for more dynamic and preemptive care.

Helmuth discusses the value of remote monitoring devices for values like blood pressure and glucose levels. A poll from Accenture notes that 57% of consumers said they would be open to remote patient monitoring (RPM) devices like these. With millennial and Gen Z patients living in a world where everything is connected and accessible through an app, these technologies are familiar and comfortable.

Through these devices and the right platforms, physicians can streamline care plans and respond to updates in patient health for better care outcomes. Tech developments have made these expanded virtual care models more financially viable for care providers because they allow practices to cut back on administrative fees and real estate costs. Patient care technology creates a “digital front door” for practices, so patients can access their physicians from home.

The article ends with a pointed message to small local practices. If these practices wish to survive, they need to integrate more comprehensive and connected health data to more effectively understand and care for their patients.

A Podcast Chat With Dr. Helmuth

Dr. Helmuth discusses his article contribution further on The Podcast by KevinMD. In his conversation with Kevin, he broadly discusses the primary care reboot and what it can mean for physicians and patients alike. 

Helmuth begins with the concept of the EHR and how this technology jumpstarted his interest in population health management through IT. He describes the importance of adapting to the changes in medicine, and how outdated technologies often hold us back from adapting when we need to. He describes how his personal practice has found success with their adaptability and makes changes as needed to keep up with regulations and patient expectations.

One of the most significant benefits of technology and data tracking for population health management is the way it connects us and informs care across the board. He shares an anecdote from a patient of his who has cardiac disease. After being admitted to a hospital across town for insurance reasons, his cardiologist was left to wonder what decisions the hospital had made and why the care team made them. 

Dr. Helmuth relays that this interaction made the patient feel he had to defend the hospital’s decisions, even if he didn’t understand them. The patient referenced Amazon knowing what books he wants to read before he knows, but his care providers aren’t on the same page even when they’re across town from one another. It’s clear that other companies know their audience, and healthcare needs to reach this same level of leveraging data.

A notable barrier to the interoperability of EHR platforms is the lack of incentive to share data. If a physician’s office can easily transfer data from one platform to the next, what keeps them as a customer of a specific company? These platforms often lack interoperability for their own business concerns.

In addition to the competition, EHR companies are also unwilling to accept the costs. Connecting EHRs requires electronic infrastructure that takes money to build. Many enterprises want to allocate spending elsewhere. Even if they’re willing to accept the costs, data sharing still brings about the question of confidentiality and how to maintain privacy without neglecting connection.

Helmuth proposes various solutions to these problems. First, he describes the importance of continuing on the journey of data aggregation in healthcare. Beyond keeping providers connected, he feels we need tools to help providers gain insights from this data and better inform their care. Second, he speaks about the value of patient communication. If patients continue to remind their care providers about sharing data, it will become a regular practice. 

Through the integration of these practices, healthcare providers can offer more team-based care and operate along the same guidelines — building more consistency and trust with their patients. Dr. Helmuth claims humans can only go so far in their line of work, and technology is the missing element. 

Contact TimeDoc Health to Learn More About Our Tech-Enabled Services

TimeDoc Health answers the call to primary care’s lack of data leveraging. Our platform integrates with major EHRs and relies on RPM devices for greater insight into patient health. Through these solutions, primary care providers can introduce stronger chronic care management (CCM) and behavioral health integration (BHI).

We understand the need for patient data, and our user-friendly platform and devices are a testament to our experience in the industry. Through these tools, primary care providers can drive facility success and improve patient outcomes. Request a demo today to experience our platform in real time.

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