With major implications for both administrative practices and the delivery of services, developments in information technology are changing the world on a scale not seen since the Industrial Revolution. The HIPAA Privacy, Security and Transaction Rules are driving more practitioners into the information age.
Some psychologists are already reaping the benefits of using tools such as practice management software and electronic claims submission. Others continue to rely on non-automated processes. While such an approach may be effective in the short-run, it does not address the scope of change to come.
Experts anticipate a complete shift to electronic client records within the next 10 years, with increasing use of "smart" technology and expert systems that provide enhanced decision support and clinical management. Additionally, as technology becomes more user-friendly and embedded in our everyday activities, the tools will become less intrusive. This development will allow for new ways to monitor health behaviors, track essential data elements, and document treatment and progress.
- More automatic and less burdensome record keeping
- Eventual cost savings and increased efficiency
- More knowledgeable, better-informed clients
- Access to more complete, accurate client records
- Clinical data and latest research at your fingertips
- Opportunities to design and implement new models for delivering services
- Ability to deliver services to remote and underserved areas
- Market shift that favors integrative, full-service providers
- Faced with high-tech health care solutions, clients will want corresponding "high-touch" (i.e., warm, caring, supportive) professional relationships
- Practitioners must be competent with new technologies
- Need for safeguards to keep electronic health information confidential and secure
- Potential for information overload
- Questions related to the effectiveness of treatment delivered through emerging modalities
- Ensuring the continued integrity of psychological services as technologies are applied to these services
- Pressure for higher productivity
- Automation of many healthcare services
- New technologies may have high costs with delayed return on investment
- Increasing transparency, with clients and payers scrutinizing practitioners' performance data