A matter of trust: Reflections on MEDITECH’s 2020 Physician and CIO Forum

Posted by William Gustin, MD

October 6, 2020 |  Physician, C-level, Video

At MEDITECH’s 2020 Physician and CIO Forum, we all saw the impact of how a virtual learning environment can help us to address common challenges in an uncommon time. And with remote technologies, I’m proud to see how we’ve been able to bridge the miles between us and even many of the uncertainties that COVID-19 has brought.

As Stacey Chang, executive director of the Design Institute of Health, correctly noted: “People experience healthcare in the context of their broader lives. And trust is in short supply. But just because doctors don’t do house calls anymore, doesn’t mean we can’t establish trust in new ways.” Our virtual forum was just one example of how clinicians have had to embrace change to meet this moment, to nurture the bonds of trust we have worked so hard for.

Up until recently, the “normal” healthcare journey has not been widely known for its convenience or efficiency. As Chang observed, patients have had very little agency in their own care. They have had to schedule healthcare into their lives, taking time away from work and family to sit in crowded waiting rooms and fill out pages of paperwork. Likewise many clinicians have been spending extra time tracking down information, and documenting well after their shifts end.

But the pandemic has been a catalyst for change, as MEDITECH EVP Helen Waters pointed out. We can’t continue as we did before. Facing so many uncertainties and with so many lives at stake, we are now depending even more on tech to give us data we can count on, quickly and easily.

And to facilitate meaningful human connection. One of the most difficult aspects of the “new abnormal” has been our physical distance from each other, which has exacerbated in many cases a sense of emotional distance as well. Mark Shrime, MD, stressed the importance of clinicians staying connected to our purpose and to the communities we serve - the “why” in our daily work. How can we do that if we lose our trust in people, or in healthcare systems, that are perpetually disconnected?

Fortunately, we’ve seen first-hand how technology is actually strengthening these relationships between healthcare providers, organizations, and consumers. MEDITECH customers like Phoebe Putney Medical Center and Avera Health are sharing how virtual visits and patient portals are keeping patients connected to their care networks (and by extension, to reliable information), even when social distance is the norm.

Likewise, our virtual communities of physicians, healthcare leaders, and technology developers have become our own lifelines - getting us all out of our silos, sharing invaluable experiences and advice that will make us all stronger in the months to come. There’s no question, this year has given us a remarkable challenge, to care better and care differently. Let’s take it on together.

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Written by William Gustin, MD

William Gustin, MD is an experienced physician informatics leader, with years of experience leading Health IT initiatives both for his own healthcare system as well as for a multitude of MEDITECH clients. In private practice, Dr. Gustin worked for years in Southern California as a hospitalist and served as chair of his Physician Advisory Committee and physician champion for implementing MEDITECH across the health system. He now cares for patients in Northern Arizona at Kingman Regional Medical Center (KRMC) as well as leads many Health IT initiatives for that organization. KRMC uses MEDITECH Expanse in the hospital and ambulatory settings. A valuable member of MEDITECH’s physician consultant team and Clinical Leadership Preparedness Program faculty (CLPP), Dr. Gustin's area of focus and expertise has been in the development and presentation of curriculum that focuses on workflow redesign, benefits realization, change management, clinical workflow improvements and system optimization. Dr. Gustin has also been an active advisor for MEDITECH’s product development team and the company’s population health initiatives. In his role as a MEDITECH READY physician advisor, he has also successfully guided and advised numerous healthcare organizations through the implementation process.
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