Healthcare providers -- especially doctors -- are not known as the most receptive, malleable folks. In fact, in the world of private pilots, it's commonly accepted that doctors are the most dangerous pilots because they have too much confidence in their own abilities.
So it's no surprise that providers almost universally hate that they've been forced to use EMRs/EHRs. The widespread frustration with the technology would be practically a galvanizing force in the medical world, were it not for the complete impotence we have to actually reject EMRs.
That said, I've always struggled to understand why so many healthcare providers resist the implementation of tools like telemedicine or other telehealth advances. Many of these tools are beautifully designed, save huge amounts of time, and greatly advance care. And yet many providers resist them with a vehemence I find hard to fathom.
But some recent research brought these reasons clearly into focus for me...
Two recent studies look at the adoption of EMRs/EHRs and dig into the true reasons that healthcare providers resist the usage of technology in many contexts.
This study looks at why healthcare providers are so resistant to EMRs/EHRs. The researchers look at the institutional beliefs in the institution of medicine -- the profession, they say, is "based upon main values such as professional autonomy, status role and expertise." These are values that butt directly against the coercive implementation of difficult-to-use EMRs/EHRs in so many settings.
This piece, in turn, surveyed 199 physicians practicing at a large US hospital. They found that -- consistent with our life experience -- healthcare providers largely deeply dislike EMRs/EHRs and see them as infringing on their time with patients and inhibiting of their ability to practice as they wish. No surprises there. However, the researchers go on to summarize, "when faced with a decision between alternate IT systems [for instance, choosing between an EMR and paper records], individual users tend to select and make use of the technology or system that is most readily accessible."
In other words, the physicians were simply trying to navigate their overloaded days by choosing the system that felt most accessible or "easy" to them. The researchers found two dimensions to this perceived accessibility: logical and physical. The physical accessibility had to do with the placement of the computer in the office or exam room, how many computers the practice had, etc. The local accessibility had to do with how difficult it was to log into and use the EMR system. The study concludes, "Both dimensions of accessibility act as barriers to EMR use intentions through their indirect effect on physicians' perceptions of EMR usefulness and ease of use."
I found this particularly fascinating because these two dimensions are the two foundations that we built iClickCare on:
- Physical accessibility: iClickCare works in a HIPAA compliant way on any iPhone, Android, or web browser. Which means that you can use it on the computer in your office, on your phone in the exam room, on your home computer, or on a floor down from your office in the hospital. This is huge for physician's perceptions of accessibility. (Not to mention making it practical to use in home-based or long term care settings.)
- Logical accessibility: iClickCare is technology for people who hate technology. Getting a consult on iClickCare is as simple as posting a Facebook update. And the workflow integrates with any other technology or Health IT systems you may be using.
So if you're exploring implementation of a Health IT system -- whether telemedicine for medical collaboration or something else -- we recommend considering these same dimensions:
- Physical accessiblity: will the system work on multiple hardware pieces (e.g., the "hardware" in everyone's pocket)? Does it require a hardware investment?
- Logical accessibility: does the system work with providers' existing workflow? Does it make sense with providers' days? How well-designed is the user interface and how hard is it to use? Do providers need to change their schedules to use the system? Will they need to use hardware they are unfamiliar with?
A Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, especially in combination with smart software, can open up the possibilities for technology implementation that providers will really use and really benefit from. We always recommend investing in software, not hardware and using that software on as many devices as providers use already.
The determinants of technology adoption aren't complicated, but working in harmony with them can be transformative.
Download our full white paper on Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policies here: