My Perspective – Evolving Care Delivery
- Vladimir Tikhtman MHSA
Take a moment to consider your last visit to the doctor. Whether you are fortunate enough to only require an annual physical because you enjoy good health or need more frequent access based on your personal health status or that of a loved one, take a moment to reflect on what that visit looked like. If you are old enough to remember what that visit may have looked like 10 to 20+ years ago, how has that experience changed? In my personal experience, two of the more obvious changes are a lack of provider continuity and the ever-increasing dependency on technology. I hardly ever see the same physician more than once or twice. Whether it’s because of bouncing between various insurance plans, my own natural transience having lived in multiple locations over the recent years, an inconsistent schedule, or being seen by the physician assistant/nurse practitioner instead of the physician I originally made the appointment with, the traditional idea of the “family doctor” who we have a long-term relationship with, often starting at birth, seems part of a bygone era.
The other obvious change is the ubiquitous presence of technology in the room. It’s as if there is an ever-present third entity, something that didn’t exist before but now must be accounted for. Like all advances in technology and perhaps most things in life, this is not inherently good or bad in itself but depends on the individual or institution wielding it. In the hands of a computer savvy clinician, access to my clinical data can alleviate the lack of continuity described, allowing for a much smoother visit. Although the provider could be seeing me for the very first time, an increasingly common reality for many, they have the advantage of easy access to my medical records. I am still occasionally astonished when the doctor greets me like an old friend even though they likely reviewed my information for the first time literally a moment before entering the treatment room. This is a huge net gain in my opinion. On the other hand, I often feel like the computer screen – the fields that need to be filled out and the notes that need to be entered – are a more central focus of my doctor’s time and attention than I as the actual patient. One physician I have seen on a couple of occasions has started to use a trainee who follows him around to work the computer on his behalf during the office visit so that he can focus on his patients. In all honesty, as a patient, I really liked this approach and will try to see this doctor again, assuming my insurance doesn’t change yet again, or life doesn’t require another move.
When the design team, leadership, and physician advisers at Agathos were thinking about our key core values, the following concern came up repeatedly:
“how do we develop technology aimed at helping physicians improve delivery of care, all while minimizing the deterrents or distractions that can often come along with using such technology?”
We made it our explicit goal to build a technology platform that benefits physicians without taking them out of their workflow, without encroaching on the crucial physician/patient interaction, and without forcing yet another cumbersome tool that increases workload – more headache than it is worth. Although I can’t be fully objective on this topic, it is my strong belief that we have accomplished exactly that goal and our user feedback along with industry leading engagement metrics suggest that I am not wrong. I invite you to take a closer look and see what you think for yourself.