Paving the Medical Records Cow Paths
There is an urban legend that the geography of downtown Boston is largely unfathomable because the city’s windy roads are actually paved-over 17th– and 18th-century cow paths. While the cow paths notion may be a myth, the lack of urban planning that led to Boston’s convoluted street map – and today’s traffic congestion and driver frustration – is indisputable.
A similar lack of thoughtful planning affects the current generation of electronic health records (EHR) systems, which frustrate physicians nearly as much as Boston’s roads frustrate drivers. Hospitals have, for the most part, gotten rid of paper; most of the processes are now electronic. And that’s awesome – but it’s table stakes. All we’ve done so far is pave the medical records cow paths. The next step is to say, “OK, now we have electronic processes; why are those processes the same as when we used paper? Why haven’t we rethought the workflow and the user experience to reflect the fact that we have computers?”
The fact is we’re still in version 1 of automating healthcare – which puts us well behind other industries. Take transportation, for example: Uber has completely changed the paradigm for ordering local transportation. There’s no tipping, there’s no dispatcher; instead there’s an incredibly new experience driven by the technology that enables it.
Today’s EHRs are doing the moral equivalent of electronic dispatching of taxi cabs. We have yet to Uber-ify healthcare. But have no doubt, it’s coming.
Watch Paul Brient’s video about optimizing healthcare IT for physicians.