When it comes to HIPAA, we are vigilant to keep doors locked, technology hyper-secure, and even watch what we say to colleagues in elevators.
These things are important, of course, and they're also the way to avoid big fines and sanctions when as we protect patient privacy.
All of that goes out the window, however, when we're sitting with a patient in a curtained hospital room with a handful of people within earshot. We collect personal information, talk about diagnoses, and discuss sensitive history. It's not a lack of sensitivity on the part of the provider -- it's just a reality of how hospitals are designed.
Of course, this little quirk of how hospitals are designed is just one of the myriad ways we get used to suboptimal design. Not only do we get used to it, but we begin to think that the status quo is probably the best way.
As the New York Times writes, "Hospitals are among the most expensive facilities to build, with complex infrastructures, technologies, regulations and safety codes. But evidence suggests we’ve been building them all wrong — and that the deficiencies aren’t simply unaesthetic or inconvenient. All those design flaws may be killing us."
The way we design hospitals also trickles down to other technologies and tools we use. The idea that "design flaws may be killing us" resonates with me as a description of EMRs/EHRs as well. Whether it is inefficient workflow, frustrating experiences for providers and patients, or realities about fatalities that we can prevent, poor design can cost us. We get used to hospitals, and this comfort with the status quo affects how we design tools like EMRs/EHRs, which in turn, affects how we work with each other on teams.
We designed iClickCare to support true medical collaboration of teams. The design supports the behavior. The truth is that many people get used to a way of working that fits with the status quo -- and it takes a person who is willing to think differently to try something new.
So is it a lost cause? "Hospitals can be dangerous and unpleasant,” Roger Ulrich, a professor of architecture at the Center for Healthcare Building Research at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden says, “But there’s a lot we can do to keep patients safe and help them recover.”
Hospitals are increasingly questioned as to the ideal way to provide care. So much is being decentralized now -- technology supports us in providing and receiving care far from the "center" (which always used to be the hospital). In fact, one way that the article highlights hospital improvement is to decentralize nurse's stations to increase speed to the patient. Whether it is rural care, at-home care, or concierge medicine, hospitals are coming into question across the board.
Of course, our buildings and tools aren't going to change overnight. But we can start looking at our behavior, and questioning whether the tools are serving us -- or whether we've shaped our behavior to an inadequate tool.
If you want to try a different way of working, using a tool to do medical collaboration, try iClickCare for free: