Family physicians gather at the "Care Anywhere" hub of the Office of the Future exhibit in the Expo Hall at the 2016 Family Medicine Experience to learn how technology can be leveraged to provide clinical decision support and task automation.
"Inspiring," "efficient," "impressive" and "visionary" were some of the words family physicians used to describe a new exhibit that debuted in the Expo Hall at the AAFP's 2016 Family Medicine Experience (FMX) here Sept. 20-24.
That exhibit -- dubbed the Office of the Future -- pulled in a steady stream of family physicians curious about the interactive, hands-on venue that was designed to help physicians envision what's possible in the very near future with the intersection of new technology and creative workflow ideas.
The exhibit was a joint presentation by the AAFP and the Connecticut Institute for Primary Care Innovation.
Visitors took a tour that began in a small theater with a short video introduction and then moved through six stations, each featuring a different concept.
- A new exhibit called the Office of the Future drew family physician interest during the AAFP's 2016 Family Medicine Experience.
- The interactive, hands-on exhibit was designed to help physicians envision what's possible in the very near future with the intersection of new technology and creative workflow ideas.
- Visitors took a short tour that began with a video introduction and then moved through six stations, each featuring a different concept.
• The "Care Anywhere" hub explored the idea that health care can be delivered anywhere via remote monitoring, telemedicine and other tools that connect physicians with patients from any location.
• The "Patient Engagement" center showed how physicians can transform the traditional waiting room to a place where patients use technology to actively engage in their health care.
• The "Clinical Team" hub offered an example of technology-enabled areas for physicians, their clinical teams and front office staff to engage in short huddles, hold longer meetings or just share information with one another.
• The "Exam Room" space gave physicians a vision of the exam room of the future, where new styles of patient-friendly furniture -- rearranged to encourage better communication -- are combined with video and camera equipment to facilitate the documentation of patient visits and collaboration with specialists.
• The "Population Health" center helped physicians see how new tools, processes and reorganized spaces can help foster the teamwork necessary to achieve good population health in a practice.
• The "Personalized Consultation" hub provided a glimpse into a private office setting where physicians can meet face-to-face with patients and, through the use of technology, consult with physicians outside of the practice setting.
AAFP News stopped a few physicians after they toured the exhibit to chat about what they saw.
Daniel Amoah, M.D., of Bradenton, Fla., liked the efficiency of having a dedicated space to bring patients together in group-visit fashion to discuss a specific shared disease such as diabetes.
"Instead of the physician spending 10 minutes with one patient, it would be more efficient for a lower-level clinician to spend one hour with six patients," said Amoah. The idea of retrieving patient information such as a blood pressure reading remotely and having it sent electronically to the physician's office also appealed to him.
Daniel Amoah, M.D., left, and Azim Lalani, M.D., both of Bradenton, Fla., give the Office of the Future exhibit a thumbs up after exploring all six concept hubs.
Azim Lalani, M.D., is part of the same large family medicine group in Bradenton and shared his colleague's enthusiasm. Lalani said the exam room model portrayed a "homey environment" that would make patients feel comfortable. "That is our vision" for a future practice, he said.
Amoah said he didn't inquire about the cost of implementing everything he'd seen, but noted, "Where there's a will, there's a way. The 'why' is more important than the 'how.'"
Dianne Pappachristou, D.O., of Tallahassee, Fla., said she completed her family medicine residency in 1994 and was pumped by what she saw at the FMX exhibit.
"This is great! I'm taking information back to show the office manager," said Pappachristou.
Capturing patient information and email addresses on iPads distributed to patients -- as shown in the exhibit -- would allow autopopulation of patients' electronic health records (EHRs) with that information. "That alone would save 20 minutes for each patient -- that's how long it takes a staff person to manually input that information," said Pappachristou.
She was also excited by the prospect of using technology to help rather than hamper the work in her clinic. For instance, with access to patient email addresses, the practice could send patients electronic invitations to set up their own health portals.
"With this technology, we could manage population data more efficiently. I'd be happy to let the machine do more of that work," Pappachristou said, especially if the rural hospital that employs her would finance the changes.
Jack Wright, M.D., of Flower Mound, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, has been in practice for 35 years and has seen family medicine change considerably during that time.
Jack Wright, M.D., of Flower Mound, Texas, says he likes some of the concepts he saw at the Office of the Future exhibit, but he'd need help paying for the changes.
"I remember using three-by-five cards to document an entire patient exam," said Wright. His three-physician practice was recently purchased by a large accountable care organization.
"If I was just starting out, I'd be more likely to set up my practice in an office setting like this," said Wright. "But at my age, there's no reason to reinvent the wheel."
Wright said his EHR can already handle some of the tasks highlighted in the exhibit, such as ordering and receiving consults and test results.
Like Pappachristou, he'd be much more inclined to integrate some of new designs if his hospital system would foot the bill. "Money would be an issue for me," he said.
Drostan Baker, M.D., of Liberty Lake, Wash., has spent his first four years in family medicine working in a large multispecialty group that is part of a hospital system. "It would be challenging to implement this sort of change when I'm not the decision-maker," he said. "So many of these good ideas are out of reach for many of us because of the layers of bureaucracy in these large health systems."
Right now, Baker said his salary is based on how many patients he sees. But his dream job is something far different.
"I envision something like what I've seen here today in a direct primary care (DPC) model where I could make the practice exactly what I want it to be," he said. In the DPC practice of his dreams, Baker said he'd employ concepts he saw in the exhibit such as telemedicine, group visits and team-based care.
"I'm exploring ideas that would take me away from a production-type model that is based on the volume of patients I see," he added.
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