The other side of the “Broken Record” story
At HIMSS, I spent forty-five minutes speaking with a reporter from Fortune about the challenges of clinician burden, what we’re doing to address it, and positive signs of progress. I felt good about our conversation. Until the article came out.
The result of joint investigation by Fortune and Kaiser Health News, Death by a Thousand Clicks: Where Electronic Health Records Went Wrong, is deeply critical of the industry’s effort to move from paper to electronic records, calling it an “unholy mess.” The article gives an in-depth look at the challenges of usability, clinician burden and health IT’s effect on patient safety and cost, as well as an overview of the policy changes that brought us to this point.
However, the article overlooks the collaborative efforts happening to address these challenges and woefully downplays our industry’s progress. This article doesn’t tell the whole story.
Now here’s the good news
People are understandably frustrated with health IT solutions that still aren’t living up to the promises of HITECH and must be used within the context of a documentation-heavy healthcare system. We agree that change needs to happen. When you’re dealing with complex, system-level issues – such as patient safety and clinician burden – it is not a simple fix.
But let’s not underrepresent our achievements. There are plenty of reasons for hope – good news, good progress and good results:
- There are numerous examples of the benefits of health IT. Our clients have successfully demonstrated benefits that include safer prescribing and medication administration, rapid identification and treatment of sepsis, precision care with delivery of genomic information at point of care and health information exchange improves safety, reduces cost.
- Health IT companies are moving beyond usability and consistently involving users to design and develop more helpful EHRs
- Clinicians and health IT leaders are working together to address burnout and improve safety in a variety of ways, for example, at University Hospitals in Cleveland, Mankato Clinic and Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
- The industry have taken a far more mature and collaborative approach to patient safety, in the 20 years since the landmark report “To Err is Human.”
These points represent just a sliver of the continuous efforts happening to improve health IT. All this good work won’t magically fix this multifaceted, system problem overnight. But it should give us hope that there are people collaborating across the industry to address system-level problems and improve healthcare for everyone.