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Thomas Ferkovic, R.Ph., MS, Managing Director, Medic Management Group, LLC.

Star Date 2020: What Will Your Office Look Like?

By Thomas Ferkovic, R.Ph., MS
Managing Director
Medic Management Group, LLC.

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Original Publish Date: September 11, 2018

The year 2020 seems so far away (it is not). What will your office look like in the year 2020? Probably very similar to today for many practices. The better question is, what could it be in 2020? Technology in healthcare, i.e., physician practice is accelerating. Gone are the days of the slow, cumbersome electronic medical record. Most practice management and electronic medical records systems are becoming easy to use for you and your patients. New features using mobile technology, kiosks, or home based systems are being developed daily.

Many practices are just happy to have installed an electronic medical record, report MIPS and MACRA data and have a patient portal. You have only just begun. Three major reasons that your investment in technology has only started are: 1) the high personnel costs, 2) millennials will be responsible for most healthcare decisions starting in 2020, and 3) communications with patients and other healthcare providers will be more advanced.

We are living in an economy that has more jobs available than people willing to work. This probably will not be the case forever, but, finding employees willing to work for $13 an hour with minimum benefits or less will be harder from this day forward. Employees are the highest expense in any practice, this will not change and will increase over time. With reimbursement continuing to change and patients wanting a different experience; are you prepared to re-envision the current practice setting? Technology can help solve the problem of staff shortages and recruitment. Technology is available for appointment scheduling (think Monday morning phone call volume), patient information (kiosks/tablets), artificial intelligence for billing or external billing services. Fast food restaurants have been working on cutting staff costs using tablets for ordering (see all new McDonald’s or Panerra restaurants) and to help with shortages of staff.

In 2020, the millennials (early 1980s birth years), will make the majority of healthcare decisions in the United States. By 2025, millennials will make up 75% of the work force. This matters because millennials think differently and respond differently than previous generations. Therefore, your future patients will have different expectations of the healthcare system and your office. Millennials are the generation that presses a button on their phone and a car picks them up, they get their food thru an app on their phone and if they want to pay for something they use...their phone.

Millennials trust their peers and social interaction via web sites, more than they trust authority. They do research and receive background information from multiple sources. They do not take instruction to do something without researching it. This will affect your practice because they define ‘healthy’ differently than previous generations. To a millennial healthy may be defined as wellness or exercise, to me (a previous generation), it is defined as not being sick or having a healthy weight. If you prescribe a test, study or prescription to me I will probably have it done or take it, to a millennial they may ask why and research alternatives.

Mostly, your practice will have to adapt to the requirements of this new user of your services. They will want access fast, appointments through their phone or an app, results immediately and a social conscience with providers.

Fax and telephone communications between you, your patients, referring physicians, health systems and other healthcare providers will require technology that can send vital health information securely between parties and software systems. The days of calls, messages, faxes are quickly fading. Electronic communications to improve the patient care experience and quality are required. If your current office flow and electronic record does not allow for efficient, accurate and reproducible communications you will need to upgrade systems to remain competitive. Your patients will want a good portal, ability to access their records via mobile technology and get messages to you without calling on a phone line.

In 2020, envision an office without a front desk check in person. A kiosk or tablet will check in your patient and provide instructions for which exam room to enter. The family history, problem and health information will have already been provided by the patient prior to your meeting. Data from a watch or phone app will provide fitness, health and caloric information. You will need to review your current electronic medical record and practice management system if you want to stay competitive. Consider these upgrades as investments not expenses, done right you can improve your patient experience, recruit new patients, and have a significant return on your investment. Are you and your staff ready?

In 1999 Tom had the opportunity to start Medic Management Group, LLC. formerly known as (SS&G Healthcare Services, LLC.). Medic Management Group is a Consulting and Management Services Organization specializing in physician practices and healthcare issues. Medic Management Group, LLC. is the leading provider of management, billing and consulting services to physicians. Medic Management Group works with clients in 26 states and manages over 3,000 physicians. Medic Management Group consists of 150 of the best physician practice specialists. Visit the Medic Management Group LLC web site at