Have you ever wondered why so many physicians resist going “electronic”? Trust me, it is not because they fear technology. It is not because doctors and nurses are Luddites when it comes to using computers. It is because they fear losing time. It is because they resist using technology if it doesn’t, or they perceive it doesn’t, add value. Even if “meaningful use” of electronic records translates to fewer errors, safer care, and higher quality; unless it also fits like a glove into clinical workflow, saving time and saving money, the trade-off just isn’t worth it in the minds of most clinicians.
This fear isn’t groundless. The photo above was taken by my colleague, Teddy Bachour, at a drive-through pharmacy near his home in Everett, Washington. Everett is in the news today because the city and Washington State just lost a new Boeing 787 Dreamliner production line to North Charleston, South Carolina. If ever a picture was worth a thousand words, this one of the sign on the pharmacy door says it all; “We have upgraded to a new pharmacy computer system to better serve you! There may be added delays when filling your prescription”.
Don’t get me wrong. I am perhaps the greatest proponent for ICT in the health industry. But solutions that make clinical work even more difficult than it already is for busy doctors, nurses and other clinicians make no sense at all. Too often, IT is promoted as a solution in and of itself before anyone asks “What problem is it that are we trying to solve?”
Next month, we launch a new monthly video program called Health Tech Today. On our first program, you’ll meet one of my colleagues who works at a large, multispecialty clinic system based in Seattle. The clinic is world renowned for modeling healthcare delivery after the Toyota production method. If you think automobile manufacturing has nothing to do with healthcare, you’d be very wrong. By taking some lessons from another industry, this clinic system not only embraces technology and electronic medical records, it is also extraordinarily efficient.
In fact, I once wrote a piece on this Blog entitled, “What if Disney Did Healthcare?” When our first Health Tech Today show comes to the web (more information on that shortly)you’ll see how knowledge gained from Toyota and Disney are absolutely revolutionizing care delivery, patient safety, cost, and quality, not to mention the improved satisfaction of those delivering and receiving care at this clinic. If you have any doubts about the value of appropriately conceived and executed IT when an organization first carefully considers “What is the problem we are trying to solve?”, this segment on Health Tech Today will make you a believer.
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft