Recently, at MEDITECH’s Physician and CIO forum, I sat down with John Lynn, the editor and founder of Healthcare Scene, and also the founder of two conferences, Expo.Health and the Healthcare IT Marketing and PR. He is an entrepreneur with a broad range of IT skills and the ability to bridge the gap between technical and non-technical groups. Some other strengths include a strong experience in healthcare IT (specifically electronic medical records), marketing, blogging, social media and SEO.
Q: With the patient experience being such an important piece of the puzzle, has that helped increase the importance of interoperability?
A: Unfortunately, it seems that nothing has really been able to move the needle on full interoperability that really impacts a patient. We've certainly seen HL7 based interoperability for years and there are millions of transactions happening that share data using HL7. However, there are some real limits to HL7 data transfers. Plus, they were focused more on what I call business interoperability.
The good news is that we've started to see an increased focus on the patient experience and also on interoperability that improves patient care. No doubt most of those efforts to date are focused around FHIR and CommonWell. Those are both finally coming to fruition and will help in a number of ways. That said, the real barrier to healthcare interoperability is not a technical challenge. It's really a business challenge and healthcare organizations deciding that it's a priority and the right thing to do for their patients. An EHR vendor can deliver all the interoperability tools in the world, but if the end user doesn't want to use those tools, it won't happen. Hopefully, the patient voice will continue to grow and healthcare organizations will see interoperability as an important patient experience effort.
Q: What should EHRs do to ensure a great physician experience?
A: I've often said that EHRs were the whipping boys for physician burnout. EHR vendors certainly play a role in physician burnout, but for the most part the EHR vendors are reflecting the reimbursement and regulation requirements. If we want to solve the real cause of physician burnout we should start with streamlining reimbursement and regulation requirements. Doing so will remove onerous tasks from physicians and free up EHR vendors time to have more time developing based on user feedback and not government requirements.
That said, EHR vendors can still do their part in improving the physician experience. As was said at the MEDITECH Forum, the clicks aren't the problem. I like to use the analogy of a piano player. They "click" the piano hundreds of times without issue and without complaint. What makes that possible? I'd suggest that a piano player needs two things: a quick, consistent response and training/practice. The same is true for EHR users. They need to know when they click something in the EHR that they'll get a quick response. The second is they need appropriate training and practice.
Of course, that's not all. EHR vendors need to look at new ways for physicians to interface with the EHR from a documentation perspective and from a data access perspective. This includes new voice interfaces, but also needs to look at data overload as well. The way an EHR presents the data, what data it presents, and when it presents that data all needs to get much more sophisticated so that doctors have the right data at the right place and the right time.
Q: What was your biggest takeaway from the Physician and CIO Forum?
A: The biggest takeaway from the Physician and CIO Forum is that the MEDITECH users reflect their EHR vendor. From urban to rural settings, they're good people utilizing technology to provide quality healthcare to their patients. They have a vision for their organizations and want to do what is right for their patients. That's a powerful combination.
Q: How important are these types of forums when it comes to moving the industry forward?
A: User forums like this one are the heart and soul of the industry. It's amazing to see what happens when you bring EHR users together like this. In many ways, it's almost like they speak another language. However, at user forums like this one, it's great because everyone knows how to speak that unique language. Plus, my favorite part of these user events is when you hear users say things like "I didn't know I could do that. Thanks for sharing" or "My doctors are going to be so happy to know that's possible." That's hard to find a lot of places, but it happens everywhere at user forums like this one.
Read John's full recap of the MEDITECH Physician and CIO Forum on healthcarescene.com.