Toward Technology-Enhanced Healthcare
The drag that IT is placing on healthcare providers is well documented. It’s also a principal reason why U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced with great fanfare at the recent HIMSS16 conference an “interoperability pledge,” which vendors and providers alike are encouraged to take. Its purpose in part is “to help consumers easily and securely access their electronic health information, direct it to any desired location, learn how their information can be shared and used, and be assured that this information will be effectively and safely used to benefit their health and that of their community.”
This call resonates because the promise of better healthcare through technology has been broken. Technology has changed the way we communicate, the way we shop, the way we watch TV, the way we drive, and the way we interact with our homes. As an industry, healthcare is lagging way behind. And the consequences are drastic. In order for us to deliver the kind of holistic care that will truly improve people’s health it’s time not only to talk about the potential, but to make it a reality for users and providers across the healthcare continuum.
We have today what 10 years ago was called a supercomputer in front of physicians – a device that knows virtually everything about the patient – but it isn’t helping out in ways we take for granted in our everyday lives when we shop online, use Google Maps or order an Uber. Having placed computers in front of physicians through widespread adoption of electronic health records (EHRs), we now have to make the computer an essential tool. It needs to adapt to the way physicians work and seamlessly integrate into their workflow. It should know and suggest things that doctors on their own don’t and can’t already know.
Once this is standard practice, we’ll be living in the age of technology-enhanced healthcare and patient care will be the better for it.