Solution provider Versatile is taking its experience managing IT for large hospitals to smaller medical practices and hospital affiliates through a new team called Versatile Healthcare Solutions.
"I was having a conversation with a doctor the other day and he said, 'I didn't spend eight years in medical school to be an IT guy,’" David Christianson, senior vice president, Versatile Service Organization, told CRN. "He said, 'I want to sit in front of my patient. That's what I want to do. I'm in a people job.'"
But when the IT systems fail, need to be updated or there is a question about hardware acquisition or licensing, the people who work in those practices must sacrifice time with patients to solve technology problems.
"You're dealing with the same old challenge of managing IT in the ambulatory health environment, which is really medical practices, and the fact that that new technology in many cases is actually separating the doctors or the clinicians from their patients," Christianson said. "It's screen time versus face time. That's what we keep hearing about. "
While hospitals provide robust IT services for health-care providers inside their own buildings, they struggle to provide support to the dozens of affiliated physicians and practices -- sometimes spread throughout the surrounding area, according to Christianson.
"The challenge to an IT center to provide real call center, service desk, on-call, on-site kind of support really starts to stretch the capability of IT organizations," Christianson said. "That's where we have fit really well."
Christianson said through corporate mergers and talent acquisition, Marlborough, Mass.-based Versatile Healthcare Solutions has the people and experience to understand what doctors and smaller practices need from an end-to-end IT provider.
"We're trying to make the technology work so the doctors and the clinicians can focus on patient care," he said. "That's really the overriding demand from that segment of the market."
So when those smaller medical practices and hospital affiliates have problems, Versatile Healthcare Solutions said it has answers and it carries with it the experience of handling the IT needs of larger hospitals, such as Shriners Hospitals for Children and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
"We become the single point of contact, the 1-800-Versatile, if you will," Christianson said. "If the problem is ultimately an EHR [electronic health record] problem, a configuration problem or a hosting problem, we'll refer and manage the response directly with the vendor. If it’s an HP laptop problem and it’s a warranty issue, we'll manage that through to resolution with a third party. It’s a single-point-of-contact kind of approach."
The IT risks for smaller practices are not just in patient records and compliance, but in the reimbursement as well, according to Christianson. That puts tremendous pressure on small operations to get the technology right.
"The use of these technologies is what dictates their ability to get paid," he said. "Their effective use of these systems and following the rules, and doing the correct coding, really dictates the level of payment."
Versatile co-founder and CEO John Barker said the potential for technology to create a simpler and better experience for patients and doctors is out there, and Versatile Healthcare Solutions wants to make it happen.
"It's our job and our opportunity to modernize health care at the edge,” he said. “We see a huge opportunity to take advantage of the skill sets that we've already had for many years and combine them with a specific acquisition that we did to drive this goal forward.”