HIMSS14: Balancing the art with the science of medicine

Reflections on the HIMSS’ Art of Medicine CIO breakfast panel
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CIO breakfast panel

This morning, I attended the HIMSS’ CIO breakfast panel “What Needs to Change to Get Doctors Back to the Patient?”  Moderated by Dr. Paul Weygandt, VP of Physician Services at Nuance, and Keith Belton, Senior Director of Clinical Documentation Solutions Marketing at Nuance, the discussion centered on how physicians can navigate the changes and challenges of today’s complex healthcare environment while doing what matters most to them – listening and caring for patients.

Panelists included:

  • Dr. Andrew Watson, CMIO, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) (@arwmd)
  • Stuart James, CIO, Sutter Health
  • Dr. Mark Kelemen, Senior Vice President, CMIO, University of Maryland Medical System
  • Dr. Charles H. Bell, Vice President, Advanced Clinical Applications, Hospital Corporation of America (HCA)

The reality is that the health IT industry needs to create solutions that help physicians return their focus to their patients, and it’s time we faced the facts:

  • 36 percent of physicians say that EHRs interfere with face-to-face communication during patient care,
  • 80 percent of physicians say “patient relationships” are the most satisfying part of practicing medicine,
  • Only 28 percent of an average ER physician’s time is spent directly with patients,
  • And, a stat from a recent HIMSS session: patients prefer doctors to use an EHR.

Armed with this knowledge, we need to get back to that local physician practice – with technology in the middle as a supporting actor, not the main event.

I am not taking care of a patient, I am taking care of a computer
Technology needs to assist, not distract.  Dr. Andrew Watson told the story of a patient under his care who had a terrible antibiotic-resistant infection that developed while in the hospital.  This infection required him to be under constant supervision and intensive therapy.  But as Dr. Watson rightly asserted, this patient never needed to come into hospital – with properly leveraged technology, he could have been treated at home.  This is a poignant reminder that healthIT, and capabilities such as telemedicine, are not just about reducing costs, they can lead to better outcomes for our patients.

Defining the problems, so we can create solutions
The lively panelists concluded that:

  • We need strategies for bringing the focus back to the physician-patient interaction and removing impediments to that relationship,
  • Healthcare organizations should be and are encouraging/valuing physician professionalism,
  • This conversation is about the changing face of healthcare – and how we envision the future of care to be.  We need to explain to providers that this isn’t just about technology – this is about a new world order coming to the industry.

Come join The Art of Medicine conversation or come to the panel session “What Needs to Change to Get Doctors Back to the Patient?” on Thursday, March 27, 2014 at the W Hotel in Boston.  If you’re at HIMSS14, be sure to stop by Nuance booth #3765 to say hello and see what Nuance is doing to get physicians back to practicing the art of medicine.

And, to read more, check out my full post The Art of Medicine CIO Breakfast – What Needs to Change to Get Doctors Back to the Patient? on my blog, Voice of the Doctor, and be sure to follow me on Twitter @drnic1.

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Dr. Nick van Terheyden

About Dr. Nick van Terheyden

Nick is Chief Medical Information Officer for Nuance where he focuses on improving the usability of health technology for both providers and patients. 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. After several years as a medical practitioner in London and Australia, he joined an international who's who in healthcare, academia and business, in the development of the first electronic medical record in the early 1990's and later, as a business leader in one of the first speech recognition Internet companies. Nick attended the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, at the University of London. He is a certified football (soccer) coach and referee as well as a purveyor of fine Scottish Malt whisky.