Closing The Loop At The Point Of Care

Published on September 10, 2013

A Win-Win For Patients And Physicians

For today’s physicians, a day at work is no walk in the park. In many ways, the digital age has only made the life of the physician more complicated. They struggle with alert fatigue, find the task of maintaining EHRs tedious and time-consuming, struggle with dwindling revenue streams, all while the impending transition to ICD-10 and all that will entail looms overhead. It’s little wonder that bedside manner might be the last thing on the physician’s mind at this point.

But what if we could really improve upon this situation? What if we could restore balance to the physician’s life and work, as well as improve the revenue cycle? What if we could transform what happens at the point of care, not just for the physician but also for the patient and the healthcare practice as a whole? We’ll need some technology to get us there, but hang with me, because it will be worth it.

“What if we could transform what happens at the point of care, not just for the physician but also for the patient and the healthcare practice as a whole?”

Closed loop clinical documentation remedies so much of what can and often does go wrong at the point of care by enabling physicians to “get it right the first time.” This is a principle I harp on to my teenagers quite a bit. When I see them hastily scribbling through a math assignment or not filling out a job application properly, I know these errors come with a cost, in that they get exponentially harder to correct as time goes on. The key is focusing on how to do the job right from the very beginning.

The same principle plays out at the point of care. Here’s a familiar scenario – on Monday, a physician examines a patient and dictates the patient’s information and symptoms into a speech transcription device. The data then gets filtered into an EHR where a CDI nurse analyzes it and makes a query back to the physician regarding treatment for the patient in question. The doctor already has a jammed inbox full of dozens more queries to be managed and isn’t able to adjust the patient’s diagnosis and treatment until Friday.

Unfortunately, this kind of scenario happens all the time, negatively impacting billing, revenue, clinical care, the physician/patient relationship, as well as decision-making. And no one is really very happy with the situation – neither the patient nor the physician.

When closed loop clinical documentation becomes an option, though, scenarios like this don’t need to happen. A physician will dictate patient symptoms into the closed loop system and natural language understanding will analyze the symptoms by applying natural language transcription to the physician’s voice. Then, immediately the system will give feedback on the patient’s condition, enabling the physician to change documentation, redirect the course of care and avoid billing errors that impact revenue and productivity … all at the point of care, not five days later.

Closed loop clinical documentation enables physicians to “get it right the first time.” It addresses current EHR deficiencies that make quality control at the point of care a challenge. It lets the physician focus more on the patient than on a computer screen and leverage the unstructured narrative that most fully encompasses a patient’s story for more efficient and accurate documentation. Closing the loop at the point of care restores balances to the physician’s life and gives the patient faster, more complete care, not to mention a more dynamic interaction with the physician. Now there’s a win-win scenario.