Curing Unhealthy IT
Picture this: You plug an address into Google Maps but it guides you to the wrong house; or you order lunch from Foodler but it never gets delivered; or you walk outside but the Uber you requested seven minutes ago fails to arrive. Hard to imagine? That’s because these technology-enabled services generally function quite smoothly, to the point that we take the marvel of their underlying technology for granted.
Advances in technology have fundamentally altered and unarguably improved the way we drive, shop and travel. Sadly, however, information technology has failed to deliver so far in the most crucial service of all – healthcare.
I believe the path to better, more effective health IT runs right through the exam room, because doctors and patients – as creators and consumers of clinical data, and as users of various devices and systems that collect, process and present that data – can and should impact its evolution. Doctors, far more than software engineers, have the best sense of what would help them to deliver patient care more efficiently and effectively. Patients have access to a vast body of information – the notes doctors take, quality of care rankings, the level of personalization provided – and it’s only going to increase. They should take advantage of patient engagement tools such as patient portals or wearable devices that deliver information electronically to a caregiver. The more they use what’s available today, the more authoritatively they can critique its pros and cons and guide developers to create the next thing.
EHRs in and of themselves will not improve the care delivery process. But new and innovative healthcare IT applications, building on the foundation of electronic health records, can. Leveraging the innovative, ground-breaking tools we have at our disposal will propel healthcare quality and efficiency forward. Making electronic health records and other healthcare IT as intuitive to use as Uber, Foodler or Google Maps will not only improve the quality of care, it will help to enhance the overall healthcare experience for everyone involved in it.
[This blog post is adapted from a commentary that originally appeared in The Huffington Post]