A sure way to form a bond with any medical provider is to share "war stories" of your EMR / EHR. Whether a specialist or a generalist, and across the spectrum of care, providers struggle with the heavy burden that this technology has created.
EMRs with poor user interfaces, no collaboration mechanism, and formats that force counterintuitive thinking are hugely detrimental to providing good patient care. They contribute to the shrinking time we have with each patient and, as the article explores, can contribute to making mistakes.
Things get even worse when you look at the performance of most EMRs / EHRs in managed care system. When the hospital system or ACO is responsible for the full scope of performance and efficiency for each patient, the losses that bad tech causes become compounded. There is an ever-worsening shortage of providers; how can we rationalize even a 20 minutes loss in their time each day due to bad tech?
So what are providers and administrators to do? Well, we certainly don't have all the answers, and we know first-hand how frustrating technology can be. But here are 4 things that our colleagues have found to make technology in medicine a blessing, rather than a curse:
- Invest in well-designed technology. Some products invest more in the design of the interface and functionality of the tool. Demand that the tool that helps you care for patients is elegant, easy to use, and helps you do your work in the ways you want to do it.
- Change how you work. As Robert Wachter said in the New York Times recently: "In health care, changes in the way we organize our work will most likely be the key to improvement... It means creating new ways to build teamwork once doctors and nurses are no longer yoked to the nurse’s station by a single paper record. It means federal policies that promote the seamless sharing of data between different systems in different settings."
- Figure out if there is just a lag time. The New York Times article above also mentioned what Erik Brynjolfsson, a management professor at M.I.T., described as “the productivity paradox” of information technology, in which there is a delay between adopting a new technology and experiencing the benefits from it. This is a reality to some extent, so patience can be helpful -- as long as you're not waiting for a gain that is never going to happen.
- As we shared in this post, you are not setting yourself up for success if you make huge investments in hardware. We recommend investing in software (which can be updated, and is generally the lowest portion of costs) rather than hardware which gets obsolete quickly. Use the equipment you already have, the spaces already available to you, and just start.
One way to deal with poor technology at work is by bringing the tools that work for you, on your own phone / device: Bring Your Own Device (BYOD.) The challenge here is whether you'll run afoul of HIPAA. Click below to learn easy ways to stay secure.