Pushing for Productivity
Many thorny issues are raised in last weekend’s New York Times article about how PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center in Oregon is pushing hospitalists for greater clinical productivity. One topic not mentioned in the article is the role of information technology in that effort. It’s a telling omission, as computerization is widely associated with improving productivity throughout business and industry… except in healthcare clinical practice.
According to HIMSS Analytics and PeaceHealth’s website, Sacred Heart is deploying a new Epic EHR system this year. Hospitalists no doubt will be greatly impacted by this go-live, for better or worse – probably for worse in the short term, if history is any guide. For example, the extensive training users must receive on an Epic system takes time away from patient care. Then, back in the workplace once classroom training is completed, it takes still more time for physicians to become comfortable (let alone fluent) with the system.
So at the very moment Sacred Heart’s management is pushing for improved clinical productivity they are undertaking an IT project that’s virtually certain to reduce it in the short term. It’s striking that didn’t warrant at least a passing mention in the article; one hopes it’s being discussed among the parties engaged in resolving the dispute.