Last June, Drs. Kenneth Mandl and Isaac Kohane contributed a thought-provoking op-ed article in the New England Journal of Medicine. The article, Escaping the EHR Trap – The Future of Health IT, provides a realistic assessment of currently available electronic health record solutions and why so many clinicians are far from satisfied with what they’ve been getting from the tech industry to date. The following paragraph does a good job getting to the heart of the matter.
Even as consumer IT — word-processing programs, search engines, social networks, e-mail systems, mobile phones and apps, music players, gaming platforms — has become deeply integrated into the fabric of modern life, physicians find themselves locked into pre–Internet-era electronic health records (EHRs) that aspire to provide complete and specialized environments for diverse tasks. The federal push for health IT, spearheaded by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), establishes an information backbone for accountable care, patient safety, and health care reform. But we now need to take the next step: fitting EHRs into a dynamic, state-of-the-art, rapidly evolving information infrastructure — rather than jamming all health care processes and workflows into constrained EHR operating environments.
Drs. Mandl and Kohane really hit the nail on the head. If you think installing an EMR or HIS (hospital information system) will all by itself transform your business and improve the care for your patients, you will be greatly disappointed. Yes, we need health data in digital format. And yes, getting things digital is absolutely the foundation of what must to be done to modernize and transform clinical practice. But, it is only the first step and a baby one at that.
Trust me. Your EMR will not by itself get you where you need to be to comply with Stage 2 Meaningful Use, let alone optimize your organization for peak performance. That will only happen when you surround your EMR with the tools clinicians need to measure what they do, and facilitate communication and collaboration among all members of the care team across the entire continuum of care.
To more graphically illustrate what we mean, we’ve prepared a short and somewhat humorous video. I hope it drives home the point on what, and what not to expect of your EMR and well as what else must be done to optimize clinical workflow. Watch the video to see how you can “get more love from your EMR”. Then click here to be taken to a site where you’ll learn more about available solutions from Microsoft and our partners.
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft