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2014 Health IT Spending to Pass $34 Billion

Posted on August 30, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Healthcare IT spending will increase to more than $34.5 billion in 2014, according to a new report from a Hampton, N.H.-based research and consulting firm.

Technology Business Research Inc. says that the spending will come as payers and providers look to build infrastructure modernization that meets regulatory mandates such as Meaningful Use of electronic health records (EHRs) under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act and the transition to ICD-10. –Source

We certainly all knew that health IT spending was up. I’m sure that much of the spending is driven by the various government programs like meaningful use and ICD-10. The article linked above had one survey respondent say that their ICD-10 budget was $2.5 million. I expect this health IT spending trend will continue. Although, we’re entering a different category of customer going forward.

I wonder how that spending is broken out between enterprise spending and consumer health IT.

Digital Health Could Seal Fate of Small Hospitals

Posted on I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

I am not a healthcare investment expert by any means, but two recent pieces of news make me wonder if the digital health movement will inadvertently result in the hurried demise of already struggling small and rural hospitals.

According to a recent CB Insights report covered by MedCity News, 362 digital health deals last year accounted for an all-time high of $1.5 billion. Of those deals, 55 were exits – smaller digital health companies bought up by larger players. CB Insights notes the majority of these acquired companies were those that provided products that make administrative health processes more efficient, such as EMRs and revenue cycle management systems. This is an assumption, but I’m inclined to think these EMR companies priced their products below their more corporate competitors. These companies may well have supplied their systems to the budget-conscious small and rural hospital market.

As most everyone knows, small and rural hospitals are facing an uphill battle these days when it comes to keeping their doors open. A recent Georgia Health News item noted that three rural hospitals in the state have closed in 2013, with some predicting an additional 20 facilities will close within the next two years. The article cites constant cash shortages, claims disputes with payers, lower projected payments to hospitals from Georgia’s new state employee benefit contract, and reduced indigent care funding as contributing factors to the poor financial health many small Georgia hospitals find themselves in.

While these may be specific to Georgia, they are almost surely indicative of similar problems seen by similar institutions in the U.S. At least 849 facilities across the country will soon face the common problem of increased scrutiny by Medicare as a result of the current “bloated and unwieldy” state of the critical access hospital program, which was designed to financially stabilize small hospitals by providing them with higher Medicare reimbursement rates.

It looks to me as if the digital health exits noted above are perhaps indicative of a broader industry trend. Small and rural hospitals are already under enormous pressure to care for underserved populations in a fiscally responsible way. As the healthcare vendor market consolidates and looks to digital health as the next best venture, will we see more affordable EMRs folded into those that are less so? Where will small healthcare facilities turn for their healthcare IT?

Where do you think these two trends will converge in the next year or two? Please share your comments below.

Aprima EHR’s Offline Functionality

Posted on August 29, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I’ve been writing for a number of years on the challenge that EMR downtime causes a clinic. In case you missed them, check out some of the following posts:
My EMR is DOWN!!!
Working Offline When Your EHR Isn’t Available
Cost of EHR Down Time
Reasons Your EHR Will Go Down
SaaS EHR Down Time vs. In House EHR Down Time

Not to mention Katherine Rourke’s recent post titled, “When The EMR Goes Down, Doctors Freak Out.” Obviously, downtime is a big problem as doctors become more reliant on their EHR software. Plus, as I state in some of the article, downtime is inevitable.

One of the most common comments I got on those posts was doctors asking why they couldn’t work in the EHR software even when it was down. My answer was usually that the EHR vendor could do that, but that it would require them to architect the EHR to be able to support offline use of the EHR and that wasn’t a simple task.

Turns out that Aprima has built this functionality into their EHR called Aprima Replication. Here’s their description of the replication feature:

Every installation of Aprima EHR includes the Replication functionality. This allows physicians to continue working within patient charts when they are not able to be connected to their server (whether it is hosted locally in their office or in the cloud). They have identical functionality as if they were fully connected with the ability to look up or enter data, perform everyday tasks such as messaging and tasking, create orders, review results, etc. Everything is stored locally on their hard drive in a secure and encrypted environment and automatically syncs information the next time they are online whether that be over a mobile wireless connection, wifi + VPN over a public network, back in their office over a wired or wifi network, at home, or wherever and however they are able to connect. Additionally, all of the synchronization is done behind the scenes allowing the provider to continue working live without having to wait for the replication to complete.

Aprima Replication goes beyond other mobile technologies because this does not require connectivity, and even more importantly it is not simply a copy of the server that is “read only,” or a partial export of charts that leaves the server side locked until the provider “checks the chart back in.” This is fully functional on the provider side while disconnected AND allows others to also continue to make updates and changes to the chart, patient scheduling, handle all the needs surrounding coordination of care, billing and collections, etc. This can also be used as a great “downtime” alternative to paper in the event of an internet outage for those using the cloud or a server failure when running it locally.

I asked a couple follow up questions to clarify exactly how the offline EMR functionality worked. Here are my questions and their answers (originally an email exchange):
The challenge I have is understanding how the patient records are available without an internet connection. You can’t be downloading every single patient record locally are you?

In our unique, patent pending Replication process, every provider has a profile unique to their needs and preferences. This includes a subset of patients based on their previous schedule, future schedule, open orders and tasks, a specific facility they may be servicing such as a nursing home, their messages, attachments, (they can set size limits to address minimal bandwidth environments such as wireless air cards) etc. Based on these parameters the appropriate patient charts are “replicated” to their tablet/laptop computer. This is an ongoing, real-time process while they are connected to the network that keeps the data current. Any time they disconnect, or even lose connectivity if there is an outage, they continue to have full chart access for reviewing, adding, and editing as if they were still connected. As soon as connectivity is restored the synchronization starts up again and continues until all of their work, plus all of the work done simultaneously on the server side, is merged back together.

Does it just download some “active patient” list or the records for the patients on your schedule for some certain time period? It’s a really beautiful thing that you’re program can work without the internet. I assume all of the drug databases, etc are downloaded and available locally as well?

Yes, they are, including all drug interaction checking which remains fully functional while off line. Any orders for scripts, labs, diagnostics, or anything else, can be created offline and then processed when the computer is back in network range. So the script or order will be ‘staged’ and ready to go. It’s just like when you write an email when your offline, then when you get in range, the emails in your outbox just go.

The other question I have is how the records deal with multiple people modifying the record in a disconnected mode. What if the nurse accesses the record and documents something and then the doctor gets in and document something. Does the record get reconciled once it’s reconnected?

Yes indeed it does.

Are there every any issues that have to be reconciled manually?

There is a “collision” report. These “collisions” are rare but we do accommodate them very well. If a Replication “save” conflict occurs, a message will be sent to the user group that is defined to be notified. Replication conflict messages contain details of the conflict and the name of the associated patient if applicable.

The next time I see Aprima at a conference, I plan to check out this feature first hand. Reconciling a patient record that two people are editing can get pretty complex. I’d like to see how it handles it. Plus, I’d love to see how well it does at resyncing the data after being offline for a while. Not to mention how well it does at identifying the patient info it should have stored locally.

This is a really challenging feature to implement. I think it says something about Aprima that they took it on. If it works well, I know there are a lot of doctors that would love this feature in their EHR.

Why One Doctor Switched EMRs

Posted on I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

Over the last several months, we’ve been flooded with statistics spelling out the reasons why doctors are choosing to dump their current EMR and invest in a new one and we’ve been writing about switching EMR for a while.  To bring some perspective to this discussion, I’ve reached out to physicians who have made the Big Switch and attempted to learn a bit about why they chose to move from one EMR to another.

Today, I bring you Dr. Christy Valentine, a New Orleans-based physician practicing internal medicine and pediatrics. Dr. Valentine operates a small practice consisting of herself and a nurse practitioner.

Back in 2007, as part of opening her own practice, Dr. Valentine decided to invest in an EMR from a company better known for hospital systems. (She’s asked me not to name the vendor — let’s call them Vendor X.) Having seen generations of paper medical records wiped out by Hurricane Katrina, she was eager to go digital and enjoy the peace of mind that backup storage offers.

Dr. Valentine looked at several EMRs but was most interested in Vendor X’s product, which was in use at the local academic medical center and under consideration by couple of major health systems in her area. “I felt I’d have a better chance of hiring people who were familiar with the technology,” Dr. Valentine recalls. “Being a small practice we really wanted to save time training individuals on the computer system.”

Dr. Valentine had purchased not only Vendor X’s EMR but also the billing system that went with it. She soon came to regret that choice, however. For one thing,, she said, Vendor X was slow to respond to customer service requests; she and her staff had to leave a message and wait for a response which sometimes never came.

Perhaps even worse, despite investing years in trying to make things right, the practice management system was a wash-out. “I had to scrap it completely and move to an outside billing service because it wouldn’t work for our practice,” Dr. Valentine said. And to top things off, the system never got easier to use despite Dr. Valentine’s sincere efforts to make things work.

In retrospect, she feels that her practice should have gone with a vendor that focuses on practices her size, she says. “I learned that you if you go for a vendors whose big fish is the hospital, you won’t be important to the vendor,” she said.

About a year ago, Dr. Valentine decided once and for all to dump Vendor X, largely because she was opening her second office and didn’t want to bring Vendor X over. Instead, her practice  brought up athenahealth’s EMR and practice management system a few months ago

Dr. Valentine has been happy ever since. She’s very pleased with the athenahealth customer service and finds the product easy to use. She feels that her system, unlike the old one, is easy to use and to customize with specialized templates. Even better, she feels ready to steam into Meaningful Use Stage 3 with athena as a partner.  “As soon as they tell us what they need we’ll be ready to jump right into it,” Dr. Valentine says.

Study: Auditing Cloud-Based EMR Providers A Good Idea

Posted on August 28, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

Providers that use cloud-based EMRs should have an outside party audit the EMR before they begin using them in production, according to a Journal of Medical Internet Resesarch piece reported in iHealthBeat.

The study, which was conducted through a literature review of Medline sources and correspondence with with cloud EMR providers, found that auditing cloud service providers would prove a useful window into management information processes and allow for an apples-to-apples comparison of security features between different providers.

To ensure the privacy and security of cloud EMRs, providers should look into the following features, the study said :

*  Access monitoring
*  Data encryption
*  Digital signatures
*  Network security mechanisms
*  Role-based access

Even with a thorough audit, providers are likely to find holes in the EMRs’ security and management capabilities. The study’s authors note that cloud-based EMR management systems are “still under development.”

For that, healthcare providers thinking about moving their EMR to the cloud should implement a thorough security policy, including:

* Third party certification:  Cloud providers must be compliant with standard third-party requirements such as FISMA, ISO 27001, PCI DSS Level 1 and SAS70 Type II.

* Monitoring:  The provider should include automated monitoring tools to assure high levels of performance and system availability.

* Internal communications:  The cloud provider should use the platform as a communications channel keeping personnel up to date on everything that happens within the system.

Background checks: Providers must have strong policies to control user access, and require that employees accessing patient data agree to background checks.

* Physical security:  The data center should be strictly controlled and feature video surveillance, expert security staff, intrusion detection and other electronic monitoring.

These steps, along with other standard  protocols, should go a long way toward addressing any security questions about cloud EMRs. But it still seems like most healthcare facilities are paranoid enough about their cloud installations that they seldom discuss them in public. Though I suspect things will change over time, I think cloud installations are still suspect in the eyes of hospital CIOs.  Perhaps a research-backed blueprint for cloud security will reassure some.

AmedNews.com and AMA News Magazine Shutting Down

Posted on August 27, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I was sad to read the news that the AMA is shutting down both it’s news magazine and AmedNews.com. I’ve always been fond of the EHR articles I’ve found on AmedNews.com. They were always a great in depth look at an important topic. It’s unfortunate that on Sept 9th AM News will stop publication. Word is that the website is also shutting down, but the content will be available until the end of the year.

The report says that the AMA news magazine has a print circulation of 230,000. I checked Compete.com for stats on the website and it has AmedNews.com at ~30,000 unique visitors per month with spikes to 50,000 unique visitors. The shutdown effects 20 employees and per the article linked above, publishing brought in $55.8 million in revenue.

I’m a little torn by this announcement. I’m always sorry when a news organization goes under. I prefer having many voices covering what’s happening in healthcare and healthcare IT. However, as a blogger in this space, I’m also amazed that a $55.8 million budget isn’t enough to support the organization. Of course, I’m sure I’m not taking into account the crazy expense of creating and distributing a print magazine. It’s too bad the AMA wasn’t able to make the switch from print circulation to some sort of online publication with much lower costs of distribution. Where’s the AmedNews.com app?

The majority of revenue for AM News came from pharmaceutical advertising. The fact that pharma advertising is moving away from these publications is interesting to note. I’m not sure exactly where all the pharma marketing money is headed, but there’s definitely a shift happening with those dollars. My gut tells me that their still in search of the next wave of pharma marketing options.

I also found it interesting that AM News is being replaced by two email lists. One is called AMA Morning Rounds and is a daily email with links to news stories and the other is a weekly newsletter called AMA Wire. I’m not discounting the power of email like many people do, but is this really the best that the AMA can offer its members?

In some ways, I’m sorry to see something that was started 55 years ago in 1958 go away. On the other hand, the evolution of publishing is changing rapidly. The cost to deliver great content to someone is so much lower than before. However, one thing will never change. People want great content. It’s just how we deliver it and how they discover it that will change.

The Doctor’s Best Use of the Tablet

Posted on I Written By

Dr. Michael J. Koriwchak received his medical degree from Duke University School of Medicine in 1988. He completed both his Internship in General Surgery and Residency in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Dr. Koriwchak continued at Vanderbilt for a fellowship in Laryngology and Care of the Professional Voice. He is board certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. After training Dr. Koriwchak moved to Atlanta in 1995 to become one of the original physicians in Ear, Nose and Throat of Georgia. He has built a thriving practice in Laryngology, Care of the Professional Voice, Thyroid/Parathyroid Surgery, Endoscopic Sinus Surgery and General Otolaryngology. A singer himself, many of his patients are people who depend on their voice for their careers, including some well-known entertainers. Dr. Koriwchak has also performed thousands of thyroid, parathyroid and head and neck cancer operations. Dr. Koriwchak has been working with information technology since 1977. While an undergraduate at Bucknell University he taught a computer-programming course. In medical school he wrote his own software for his laboratory research. In the 1990’s he adapted generic forms software to create one the first electronic prescription applications. Soon afterward he wrote his own chart note templates using visual BASIC script. In 2003 he became the physician champion for ENT of Georgia’s EMR implementation project. This included not only design and implementation strategy but also writing code. In 2008 the EMR implementation earned the e-Technology award from the Medical Association of Georgia. With 7 years EMR experience, 18 years in private medical practice and over 35 years of IT experience, Dr. Koriwchak seeks opportunities to merge the information technology and medical communities, bringing information technology to health care.

I recently reviewed the Epocrates 2013 Mobile Trends report.  The study has a somewhat unusual participant profile, consisting only of primary care, 3 medical specialties and no surgical specialties; nonetheless the observations are probably close to the mark and are consistent with my experience with my first tablet a couple of years ago.

I purchased an iPad within a couple of months of the introduction of the first model thinking it was perfect for EMR use in my office.  I abandoned it after a couple of months when I discovered several shortcomings.  First, the first iPad was too heavy to hold by the edge and had to be held by a fully supinated hand (totally flat palm facing up).  Try that for 5 minutes and see how your forearm feels.  The first iPad was also too big to put in a physician’s white coat pocket.  And the screen resolution of the first iPad models was not good enough to display a busy EMR screen.   But the biggest drawback was that the early remote desktop apps did not work very well.

The iPad mini addresses all four of these issues.   The Mini is small enough to fit in a white coat pocket with the standard magnetic cover in place.  It is easily and comfortably held by its edge.  It needs a Retina screen badly but the display is better than the original iPad and is (barely) adequate for my 50-year-old eyes to see.   And remote desktop apps have come a long way.  It appears that similar advances have been made in tablets from other manufacturers as well.

I was therefore surprised to learn from the Epocrates study that although a majority of providers (53%) use tablets for patient care related activities, only a small portion (2%) use tablets for actual patient care record keeping in an EMR.  So I thought it would be interesting to outline my current methods of using a tablet that put me in the 2% category as well as the 53%:

 

  • Entering data into my EMR via a Remote Desktop app.  There are important lessons here.  Don’t expect to stick a tablet in the physician’s hand and have it work like magic.  Our office workflow is designed to optimize the physician / tablet combination.  I use the tablet for only 2 data fields in EMR:  assessment and coding (CPT and ICD).  The office staff enters all the other parts of the note and initiates treatment workflow through the EMR at the physician’s direction.  After the patient is seen I review all parts of the note (on a laptop or desktop), make additions / corrections, and sign it.
  • Cloud based voice-to-text.  This takes the tablet from merely useful to spectacular. There are 3 characteristics of Apple’s built-in cloud-based speech recognition that make it comparable to the Dragon software I have used in various forms for over 10 years:  1.  It is embedded seamlessly into the soft keyboard, 2.  An inexpensive external microphone plugged into the headphone /microphone jack raises transcription accuracy tremendously, and 3.  It works well with Remote Desktop, eliminating the need for a “dictation box” or other similar workaround.  These attributes make up for its most serious drawback, the lack of a medical (or at least customizable) vocabulary.  At the moment I have the right people talking to each other to address that problem.
  • Hospital EMR.  Our hospital is still in the implementation phase of a new Cerner system.  I am still learning the system myself but my initial experience using the system on my tablet using Citrix Receiver has been very positive.
  • Patient education.  LUMA, a product of Eyemaginations, is a very nice product for showing surgical patients the complex head and neck anatomy of their diagnosis and/or proposed surgical procedure.  There are both online and iPad versions available.  I can switch back and forth between EMR and LUMA without losing the Remote Desktop connection.
  • Medical imaging.  I can’t load an image disk directly onto my tablet but I can load it onto my desktop and take a photo with my tablet to review relevant images with patients.  I have tinkered with some apps that allow me to draw on the image to help educate patients.  Still looking for a way to conveniently reduce the file size to facilitate copy-pasting into EMR notes.
  • Literature searches in the exam room.  Not glamorous but helpful, most commonly to review medication side effects.

 

I think that is a pretty complete use of the tablet for the physician.  No doubt new uses will appear before long.

 

MGMA Raises Meaningful Use Stage 2 Concerns

Posted on August 26, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

Becoming another of several groups asking for Meaningful Use changes, the head of the Medical Group Management Association has written a letter to HHS outlining several concerns the group has with Meaningful Use Stage 2.

In the letter, which was addressed to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, MGMA President and CEO Susan Turney raised several issues regarding the ability of her members to step up to Stage 2. She argued that physicians have a “diminished opportunity” to achieve Stage 2 compliance, and that as a result it would be unfair to impose Medicare reimbursement sanctions on her members. Turney argues that HHS should institute an “indefinite moratorium” on practices that have successfully nailed Stage 1 Meaningful Use requirements.

Why should HHS give practices a break?  The reason, she says, is that vendors are proving slow to produce Stage 2-certified products, leaving medical practices in the lurch. At the time of writing, Turney said, there were only 75 products and 21 complete EMRs certified for Stage 2 criteria, a small fraction of the more than 2,200 products and nearly 1,400 complete EMRs certified under 2011 criteria for ambulatory eligible professionals.

With vendors largely not ready yet to help practices through Stage 2, practices are likely to have little time to work on software upgrades or expect timely vendor support, she notes. And worse, EPs who invested big in Stage 1-certified EMRs might need to “rip and replace” them for a new one certified to meet Stage 2 if they want to avoid Medicare reimbursement cutback deadline.

On top of all of this, she notes, many practices are having to wait in line for Stage 2 upgrades of their EMR product behind practices adopting  an EMR for the first time. The wait is lengthened, meanwhile, by vendors’ attempts to cope with ICD-10 support, whose Oct. 1, 2014 deadline falls right in the middle of preparations for Meaningful Use Stage 2.

Turney makes a lot of sense in her comments. The vendor market clearly isn’t going to be able to keep up with ICD-10, MU upgrades and new installation within the same time period. I don’t know if an indefinite moratorium on Medicare penalties is the right policy response, but it should certainly be given some thought.

After all, punishing doctors who drop out of Meaningful Use due to factors beyond their control isn’t going to help anyone, either.

EMR Workflow, AI, and Recognizing Innovation – Charles Webster, MD Edition

Posted on August 25, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.


Uhh…I think it’s more than safe to say that Dr. Webster has a rep when it comes to EMR workflow. Consider this edition of tweets my ode to his passion.


I love that the idea of Smart EHR is spreading. I think it’s a really important one. I’m really intrigued by any new interfaces that incorporate AI. Thinking about the possibilities of what AI can do to a user interface is both scary and exciting. Although, I’m mostly excited.


Makes me wonder how a committee would do with EMR workflow. Innovation does rarely come from committees. This is a really interesting topic since most hospitals are dominated by committees. Are we missing out on a lot of innovation in our hospitals because of this?

The Old Man and the Doctor Fable

Posted on August 23, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

A while back I came across an amazing fable called The Old Man and the Doctor. I was trying to think of a way I could use part of it to entice you to go and read the entire Fable, but there’s no way to take a piece of it. You just have to go and read the whole thing. It has a couple twists and turns that really shocked me. If you haven’t read it yet, go read it now. This post will be here when you’re done. (Note: I’d love to see an amazing story teller tell this Fable at a future TedMed).

While just a Fable, it highlights a real challenging problem that every doctor faces: mixing technology with human touch.

I know some people who are working really hard on trying to solve this problem. How do we get the granular data elements that we need to improve healthcare while still preserving the human touch of a doctor?

This is not an easy problem to solve, and I’m sorry to say that most EHR implementations often do more harm than good when it comes to the physician-patient relationship. Various reimbursement and regulation requirements aren’t helping either. No doubt the Fable above is warning us of this shift.

I think this problem can be solved if we’re aware of it and work to solve it. I don’t think it can be solved by one individual either. It like takes a mix of vendors, doctors, nurses, consultants, etc to make the patient visit experience more human while still meeting the documentation demands. Hopefully this amazing Fable will help more people to become aware of this challenge.