New Year, Familiar Challenge
The most significant IT-related change in healthcare over the next several years will involve processes as much as technology. I’m referring to EHR optimization, specifically to improve physicians’ workflow and productivity.
An EHR is supposed to “automate and streamline the clinician’s workflow;” unfortunately that’s not today’s reality, as evidenced by countless articles and complaints by physicians. The current crop of EHRs have simply paved the cow paths; they’ve automated traditional paper processes and removed the paper. Now, to meaningfully improve healthcare, we need computers to help doctors do something differently than they would have done had they been working on paper. Some of these advances will rely on various technologies such as big data and A.I.; others simply require a re-thinking of how systems support physicians’ workflow.
Impediments to using hospital EHRs demand attention because physicians are by far the most expensive and scarce resource in the healthcare system. Hopefully, the next few years will bring about the innovation and new approaches necessary to make EHRs truly work for physicians. Otherwise, the $36 billion and the countless hours hospitals across the country have spent implementing electronic systems will have been squandered.