In a recent Fast Company article, “Could The Future Of Health Care Mean No Waits In Hospitals?,” I had the opportunity to explore what the shift to value-based care – or care that’s focused on quality, efficiency and outcomes vs. volume – will mean for physicians and patients. Moreover, I touched upon my thoughts on the hospital of the future and the top three transformations that will drive the next generation of patient-centric care.  With Health IT Week (#NHITweek) just around the corner, I figured now would be a good time to start a conversation around one of the transformations discussed in the aforementioned Fast Company article: Technology That Works for Physicians vs. Against Them.

The accompanying image and excerpt below from Fast Company illustrates some key transformations that I, as a doctor and CMIO, believe will take place in the coming years as we reinvent and simplify how doctors use and engage with technology to improve the quality of patient care.  The following is a brief summation of a few of these key changes that need to take place in order to make this a reality for doctors and the patients they serve:

  • Doctors will use their voice and language understanding to navigate and input detailed patient data into the electronic health record vs. being forced to fit the patient story into drop down menus and point-and-click options;
  • Conversational user interfaces, that are in-tune with “doc-speak,” will enable doctors to more naturally engage patients in the creation of their record and overall care process vs. being heads down and manually typing away with their back to the patient; and
  • Doctors will have automated tools at the ready to ensure the complete capture and documentation of all facets of the care provided to a patient starting at the point of care vs. having clinical documentation specialists and coders follow-up with the doctor hours, even days after the patient visit, in search of clarification on the patient’s note for quality assurance, billing and coding purposes.

But enough about what I think – what do YOU think doctors need and want to ensure technology acts an enabler and catalyst for improved quality and increased patient engagement?

Transformation #1 – Technology that Works for Physicians vs. Against Them (excerpt from Fast Company)

Issues surrounding the usability of electronic health records (EHR) continue to surface despite federal mandates that clearly state that this transition isn’t really optional.  To demonstrate how mainstream these EHR frustrations have become one only needs to take a brief jaunt to Twitter and search #EHRbacklash.  Part of the frustration rests in the fact that doctors are forced to fit their patient data into drop down menus and point-and-click options.  There’s clearly something missing within that approach to documenting a patient story.  Moreover, EHRs and the typing that goes along with them, act as a barrier between the patient and doctor.  Instead of encouraging interaction and engagement, technology has become a concrete wall between patient and caregiver.

So what’s the solution?  It involves taking a page out of the consumer technology world.  The idea being that mobile virtual assistants, like Siri, but built with medical-specific speech recognition, language understanding and artificial intelligence, could shoulder the burden of these usability frustrations for physicians.  In essence, streamlining how physicians interact and navigate the EHR at the point of care, while also simplifying access to data within the layers of information hidden in the system.  Perhaps most importantly, this type of intelligent virtual assistant could allow physicians to turn away from the computer or tablet and engage the patient in the creation of their own record through a conversational user interface that listens, captures and creates the digital record in a natural, human way.

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Dr. Nick van Terheyden

About Dr. Nick van Terheyden

This is a contributed post by Dr. Nick van Terheyden. As a pioneering creator in the evolution of healthcare technology, he brings a distinctive blend of medical practitioner and business strategist to the realm of health IT. To see more content like this, visit the Healthcare section of the blog.