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The shifting face of family practice

When new generations enter the workforce, they bring different viewpoints, behaviours, and expectations with them — and that’s certainly the case in the medical field. As a wave of millennial physicians begin to launch their careers, many are placing a greater emphasis on finding work-life balance than their baby boomer-counterparts.

The fact that more women are entering the profession may be partially responsible for this shift in priorities. A report by the Canadian Institute of Health Information revealed that the number of female physicians increased by 21% between 2014 and 2018. The report also revealed that nearly 60% of Canadian family physicians under the age of 40 are women. Since many women are often the primary caretakers at home, it makes sense why increased flexibility and greater balance are important to this generation.

Meanwhile, it’s become increasingly complex to provide optimal care. Today’s physicians are seeing more patients, ordering more tests, and performing more administrative tasks than ever before. As a result, newer generations are eschewing traditional workplace models in favour of more flexible options (e.g. scheduling weekend appointments, rotating shifts, or working in multiple clinics) and leveraging new technologies like virtual care to improve their quality of life — without compromising the standard of care they provide to patients. Read on to learn more about the ways that younger physicians are using digital tools to work smarter, faster, and better.

Gaining greater access to patient information.

Today’s physicians collect a wealth of patient data and they know that, when filed properly, this information can play a huge role in improving care. It’s why many of them are using the latest technologies to access health records and communicate with patients wherever they are — be it at the clinic, at the hospital, or at home. This sort of access is what allows physicians to continue providing excellent care, while also accommodating personal time and family obligations.

Of course, in order for patient data to be even more valuable, it needs to be shared among healthcare professionals and facilities. Many new physicians are looking forward to the day when centralized patient portals are introduced, so that information and records can be accessed from one place; this would allow them to review patient files faster, prevent duplicate ordering of tests, and ultimately save time.

Communicating more regularly with patients.

Using the latest technologies, physicians have the power to share information more openly with patients. This has encouraged many people to play a bigger role in managing their own care, which means less burden falls on physicians. As a result, new generations of doctors are embracing the idea that patient-physician relationships have evolved into partnerships.

“I think we’re actually reducing our workload, and we’re giving ourselves more time to spend with patients who really need it,” says Dr. Daniel Pepe, a TELUS Health user and family physician at London Lambeth Medical Clinic who has seen first-hand how technological solutions can save valuable time. “If you set up an ecosystem where you don’t have to monitor every single result that comes in or you know that patients are looking at results…I think it can take a little bit of the pressure off.”

This sentiment is echoed by Skende Huskic, a physician’s assistant and clinic manager at Whitewater Medical. “With patients being aware that, with new technology, they are able to access their information and their schedule, our staff is feeling more comfortable,” she says.

Optimizing technology to reduce administrative work.

In recent years, physicians have also expressed interest in learning how to more meaningfully use EMRs and add ons as part of their daily practices. After all, once they’re comfortable with these digital tools, physicians can leverage unique features and functionalities to work more efficiently and enhance care.

“A phenomenon we’re seeing is that we’re all getting better and patient care is getting better,” adds Dr. Pepe. “There’s less of a focus on data entry and more emphasis on using EMRs as tools to care for patients. We’re using the portals more effectively. We’re [emailing] labs and requisitions and results more effectively.”

The family practice of the future.

The healthcare industry is undergoing a major evolution with both technological and generational shifts occurring at once. It’s one of the many reasons why the next generation of physicians is turning to digital tools to work smarter and more efficiently. When used effectively, these technologies bring a host of benefits, from allowing physicians to see more patients to providing the flexibility needed to achieve the work-life balance that they desire.

Beyond improving a physician’s quality of life, these tools are also transforming the patient experience — something Huskic believes patients want more of. “Often, clinics are afraid to implement change, especially clinics that are dealing with older generations,” she says. “They think that patients are not willing to change. Actually, surprisingly, patients are willing to change too.”

It’s clear that the future of care is here. The next generation of physicians is reshaping the very nature of work by leveraging new technologies and tools that were never before available.

How will you shape your practice in the next decade?  What will you do differently? Tell us @TELUSHealth.

The post The shifting face of family practice. appeared first on Physician Pulse.