Can the “little guy” still make it in healthcare? A conversation with Dr. Doug Hansen

Dr. Doug Hansen, a primary care physician in suburban Denver, possesses a fairly unique perspective on healthcare IT. He is the founder and Medical Director of a group called Altitude Family and Internal Medicine, a small yet rapidly growing practice with two locations, one in Littleton and one in Lakewood, Colorado. He is also a member of the board for Colorado Health Neighborhoods representing about 3,000 physicians in Colorado of various practice sizes and structures. 

Since its inception nine years ago, Altitude Family and Internal Medicine embraced technology as a means of delivering the best care to its patients at the lowest expense possible. We contacted Dr. Hansen to learn about the practice's IT journey and to hear his thoughts relative to the evolution of small-practice healthcare technology in Colorado. 

(Editor's note: To hear audio excerpts of this interview, click on the media player buttons that run throughout this article. This interview is part one of a two part series. Part two will be published December 7, 2015.)

Free: Given your considerable knowledge of the healthcare community in your region, how would you describe the overall mindset of organizations today, regardless of their size?

Hansen: Without a doubt, the common denominator is a shared focus upon medicine. We are really centered on quality-based, efficient evidence-based medicine. I think that is the biggest commonality we have no matter the size of the organization.

In terms of being a little bit different, we are a very progressive practice. Both progressive in terms of our medicine and progressive in terms of our use of technology, our attempts at patient outreach, patient engagement, all these things are really pertinent to what we do. We are very much a wellness-based practice. We tend to be a little bit contrary to what might be a little bit more common place with in the market. We try not to reactive. We try to be very proactive in our patients' health as a goal and so. Again, I think when we opened 10 years ago, we saw technology as a tool that we really needed to leverage in order to reach our goals and metrics both in terms of quality and just the type of patient care and the type of patient engagement and customer service that we wanted to offer.

We also saw how the technology was rapidly evolving so we understood the need to evolve along with it. We have always reached out to our patients electronically with the technological capacities we had at the time. However as we moved into early 2014, we saw that the technology that we relied on when we opened was not the same technology that we wanted moving forward. We started to lose some of that functionality that we always sought, so we made some important changes. 

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Altitude Family and Internal Medicine, EHR, Electronic Health Records, ICD-10, interoperability, Kareo, Meaningful Use, small practices

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