Let’s Get Engaged
The electronic health record (EHR) is a hospital’s so-called “system of record” for patient information. It’s the single source of truth about a patient’s medical history, current diagnoses and treatment. But that doesn’t mean clinicians want to (or have to) work in the system of record; indeed, given a choice, many would prefer not to. And considering how IT is structured in other industries, it’s not unreasonable for clinicians to expect to interact with a “system of engagement” that’s different from the system of record – one that’s specifically designed to offer an instinctive user experience.
Take airline reservations, for example. Remember when you had to call or visit a travel agent to book a trip? That was partly because the computer systems that facilitated the ticketing transactions required extensive training and special access to use. Then came the Web and the emergence of consumer-friendly travel sites like Kayak.com, which (among other things) put an intuitive front-end on legacy, behind the scenes Global Distribution Systems like Sabre. (These systems were created back in the 1950s for the purpose of rate and availability planning and sharing between airlines.) The back-end transaction processing system – the “system of record” – is still there; but now, as you click your way to that beach vacation, you use Kayak — and Kayak works with Sabre. In this way, Kayak and other sites like it – “systems of engagement” – have made booking travel a comfortable and completely self-service experience for consumers.
Now think about healthcare IT and today’s EHRs. Unlike the travel industry, which has mastered the art of delivering a seamless, easy-to-use interface for users, the healthcare industry is still requiring its users — most notably doctors — to endure outdated and complicated systems of record every time they log in. It’s no wonder, then, that we have to put our physicians in a classroom for days just to teach them to enter an order. Meanwhile, nobody has ever taken a class on how to use Kayak to book a trip.
Given the frustration and loss of productivity many clinicians experience using EHRs, it’s past time for healthcare IT to embrace the “system of engagement” model. Physicians in particular are ready to get engaged.