Lessons learned from HP
Hewlett-Packard got its start as a manufacturer of test equipment for electrical engineers. One of the reasons HP was so successful was because its products were designed by the very people that ultimately used them.
Alas, this is not the case in healthcare IT. Physicians typically do not create (and generally dislike) the software tools they’re required to use, especially electronic health records (EHR) systems.
Since physicians are not about to give up caring for patients in order to start writing software code for the next generation of EHR systems, healthcare IT vendors will not be able to replicate HP’s model exactly. However, with greater physician engagement – doctors actively participating in health IT product design and implementation processes – we can get closer. Physicians don’t have to code, but they do need to collaborate with those who do.
It’s beginning to happen. For example, PatientKeeper’s CPOE application was built in close consultation with physicians from two hospitals, one large and one small, over a period of several years. The doctors, including hospitalists and specialists, offered detailed input about their order entry workflow, reviewed screen and interface designs, went over order sets, and spent hours assessing early builds of the product. With each iteration came new learnings and new opportunities for streamlining workflow. In the end it took 13 attempts to create the core of what is PatientKeeper CPOE; as a result of the collaboration, the CPOE application has been enthusiastically embraced by physicians.
If software developers and installers are given a view inside a physician’s day and physician workflow in the hospital, they should be able to translate those insights into features and functions embedded in the products they design and deploy. And the more that happens, the better the odds that doctors will be well served by the technology that is developed through their partnership.
[This post is adapted from an article that appeared in TechCrunch.]