Why Not Healthcare?
There was much discussion at #HIMSS16 last week about the difficulties physicians encounter using today’s electronic health records (EHR) systems.
In one talk, prominent physician informaticist Dr. John Halamka of Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center gave EHRs a grade of C+ from a physician user’s perspective. Writing about Halamka’s session (and hard grading) in his Modern Healthcare blog, Joe Conn reported, “An analysis of Beth Israel’s own self-developed EHR showed physicians must make 450 clicks and enter 141 structured data elements, mostly for clinical quality measures, to document a patient encounter.”
In another high-profile presentation, Acting CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt said, “We’re still at the stage where technology often hurts rather than helps physicians providing better care.”
While not “new news,” these comments reinforce where the healthcare IT industry is (and isn’t) when it comes to EHR usability. More importantly, they suggest some of the important work that remains to be done.
As PatientKeeper CEO Paul Brient writes in his new e-book, “Taking paper paradigms and moving them to the computer is a logical first step, but it can be awkward and doesn’t necessarily yield positive change… To date, no one is helping doctors take advantage of the computer to write better notes.”
Of course physicians’ notes are just one part of the clinical informatics equation. The overall challenge is far broader and more complex – and begs the question:
In every other industry in our economy, technology has increased efficiency, reduced costs, and improved productivity. Why not healthcare?