Engaging clinicians requires smarter tech

September 13, 2019

By Dianne Fowler

Nurses, physicians and other clinicians have more insight available today about their patients than ever before. Whether it is in a clinical data analytics application, a payer portal or a health information exchange, information that could help patients achieve a better outcome is likely stored somewhere in some database.

Imagine their frustration knowing that this information exists, but then having to leave their electronic health record (EHR) and go searching for it in those different electronic silos. Worse yet, after several minutes of searching and scanning documentation, they do not find any relevant information and eventually abandon the search due to the tremendous time and productivity pressures they are under at most organizations. Meanwhile, their patient at the point of care is growing concerned and irritated that the physician is spending so much time clicking and staring at a screen.

Surfacing meaningful data at the point of care
This frustration is part of the reason why, in 2018, physicians ranked “electronic health record (EHR) design and interoperability” as the least satisfying aspect of practicing medicine, and why they feel like they are at-capacity or overextended.

Overcoming this lack of clinician engagement in health information technology (IT) software is so crucial that the rating organization KLAS ranked it one of the six verticals, or core functionalities, that population health IT platforms must have so provider organizations can effectively manage risk. This was based on a KLAS finding that only 8% of population health organizations are satisfied with their clinical engagement from an IT perspective.

Fortunately, contextually aware technology exists today that provider organizations or vendors can add to existing technology that does not force them to rip and replace systems. Rather, the technology serves as a bridge between the EHR and other software so that information is automatically surfaced within providers’ current workflow, without leaving their EHR and without the need for time-consuming and expensive point-to-point interfaces.

Engaging clinicians requires automation and relevance
The recent health IT interoperability standard proposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is certainly a step in the right direction in improving provider access to siloed patient data. However, while the proposed rule confronts the key interoperability issue of efficiently sharing information between organizations, it does not address the much more important issue of delivering relevant data to providers within their workflow. This could result in providers being even more inundated with an abundance of irrelevant information that does nothing to help them make higher quality, safer patient care decisions.

The first, second and third bullets about viewing information and taking action within the EMR workflow without multiple sign-ons would be major improvements for most healthcare organizations today. Too often, providers are required to jostle between multiple applications and portals to find meaningful information. If an organization is able to deliver patient-specific analytics data to providers at the point of care it is often superfluous and/or irrelevant. Nonetheless, the documentation still requires precious time to scan so providers can make that determination.
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