Everyone in the industry would likely agree that “clinical” or “care transformation” has been a popular buzz-term for the past several years. Most also agree that interoperability barriers and data silos need to be broken down to achieve it. But there are several issues that are critical to improve the way physicians work before hospitals and health systems will see the kind of transformational change that’s necessary to make the most of technology enhancers while preserving the human element of patient care.
1) Let’s conquer minutes before seconds – There is a prevailing notion about physicians trying new technologies – that anything taking longer than a matter of seconds is too long, and they will lose interest and fail to see value. Unfortunately, we still have a way to go in that regard. Many physicians tell me that they are capable of getting the patient data they need, but because of all the steps involved to get it, they hate the tools they’re using. I recently had a conversation with a physician at a large health system who determined that bringing a simple set of patient data and waveforms together in one place without multiple log-ins throughout the day would save him 35 minutes. He counted. That productivity impact for only half of U.S. physicians represents a $6B annual opportunity. I’m confident we’ll get to seconds, but for now, it’s still the minutes that matter.
2) Bring data to physicians instead of forcing physicians to go to the data – More and more, hospital technology leaders are gaining a better understanding of the way physicians work, and could work given the right tools. Most recently, they’ve started to look at alternatives to fixed/desktop solutions that can inhibit clinical workflow. While there is tremendous hope regarding the ability of PC tablets to give physicians a “mobile desktop,” many IT leaders are realizing that physicians really want to see data on the device they carry with them every day – their phone. Shoehorning desktop solutions onto a phone will never be effective (just ask anyone who’s tried to use web log-in solutions on a smart phone). Native solutions tailored to the form factor of what doctors always carry with them will be the minimum bar for mobility – physicians will use a well-designed phone interface.
3) Let physicians close the transaction from wherever they are – The key to achieving true clinical transformation is enabling physicians to close deals – like ordering medications, labs and consults. Without bi-directionality, physicians will be faced with another step and potential obstacle to executing care decisions. A great analogy is any user’s experience with mobile airline applications. I have a favorite airline carrier, but their mobile application is frustrating. It allows me to view some basic information, but I’m unable to easily “close” any transaction on the go – check in for my flight, reschedule, etc. – with just a few clicks. Instead, it turns into a mess that usually ends with me on the phone waiting for a representative. If hospitals and health systems want to get the most out of the investments they’ve made in different systems, and the data flowing across departments and facilities, it’s critical that they enable physicians to execute on transactions on the go in a manner that is agnostic to the multitude of underlying systems already in place.
These factors need to be addressed to provide physicians with a practical, user-friendly application of technology and decision support tools they need. Ultimately, that time (and frustration!) saved translates into more time physicians can spend with their patients focusing on the art of medicine.