We don’t envy healthcare providers today. Despite decades of specialized training and hard work, it’s amazing how much of a physician’s mental energy is spent on managing things that have nothing to do with delivering medical care. There are bureaucratic pressures, online reviews (bless it), liability concerns, enough paperwork (or the electronic equivalent) to suffocate the poor doc, and every new potential improvement of healthcare seems to rest heavily on the shoulders of already-overburdened healthcare providers. According to the American Medical Association, one in five physicians is targeting leaving their practice in the next two years. We are losing really good, experienced doctors, and it’s hard to blame them. It’s high time all of us who work in the healthcare IT sector not only acknowledge but get some skin in the game when it comes to the challenge of change management for physicians in the name of interoperability.
Like It or Not, Healthcare Faxing Served a Purpose for Decades
Let’s face it: change is hard. A lot of healthcare IT vendors bemoan and even chide faxing technology. (We’ve already advocated for embracing the value of fax, so cat’s out of the bag on our position on the matter.) But the reality is that faxing in healthcare has been around for decades. Decades! The idea that providers and their staff are going to adopt a new method of exchanging healthcare records, and (most importantly) optimize workflows in the process, without a lot of pain is simply unrealistic. Entire processes have been tailored to this method of exchange, which no doubt has its own flaws and clunky infrastructure. But the point is that simply proclaiming benefits of a new technology without actually supporting the very people who are going to have to learn it, implement it, and adopt it is not only a problem, it’s rude.
That’s right. Rude.
How Many Access Points is too Many to Create a Comprehensive Care Record?
Anything more than two is too many. Think about it: we’ve experienced this on the patient side of the exchange. It’s not uncommon for a single patient to have 8 different logins for eight different healthcare providers. Use any one of them exactly never, and they don’t play well together, even using manual attempts.
Now imagine being a busy doctor, slammed with patient appointments (people who need help!), and having to hit up multiple different sources to try to connect the dots on your patients’ history and current treatment. The baseline attempt here is to try to better understand the holistic view of patients, but what’s really missing with these cumbersome, disconnected workflows is the opportunity to mitigate risk, to optimize outcomes…to level up the whole experience!
And to put it mildly, this is a terrible user experience. In any other sector of technology, End Users would revolt.
Timing is of the Essence for Busy Providers and Their Staff
One thing we don’t want to get buried in this conversation is the very real problem that occurs in the course of change management for providers and their valuable office staff. In the course of transition between systems and/or processes, multiple systems and/or processes exist. Traversing that gap is brutal, very time consuming, and can preclude real progress, even if just in terms of willingness (which is crucial). The lingering transition process is especially burdensome for office staff who spearhead administrative changes within practices and health systems, and these stakeholders must not be overlooked either. The sooner that technology vendors and their solutions can provide value to inspire change, as well as shepherd the transfer and workflow optimization, the more powerful efforts become in actually supporting the care delivery experience.
Providers Should Just Have the Outcome
As we’ve said before, caregivers should not have to worry about interoperability. Kno2 CEO Jon Elwell nails it when he says, “Providers should just have the outcome…” Recognizing and responding to the challenges of change management for providers and their teams when it comes to healthcare IT will be a game-changer for our efforts to elevate the industry.