Not even twenty years ago, industries shuddered at the threat of January 1, 2000, because of a fear that computers would not be able to process the change from 1999 to 2000. Today, patients get text reminders on their mobile smartphones that they have an upcoming appointment or use telehealth apps to see and talk with their care teams without ever leaving their homes. Technology has dramatically shaped the way we live, including the delivery and provision of healthcare.
Technological innovations have brought significant gains to healthcare—and few patients or providers would roll the scroll back to 1999. However, healthcare organizations and case managers have room for improvement in how they integrate technology into their workflows.
From EMRs to electronic medical devices and clinical decision support tools, healthcare workers and providers are engaging in an increasing number of activities to deliver care.
Besides new tools, recent research indicates the amount of medical knowledge available continues to increase dramatically and is projected to double every 73 days by 20201.
“…the amount of medical knowledge available continues to increase dramatically and is projected to double every 73 days by 2020.”
EMR Challenges and Benefits
The increasing level of burnout for providers is cause for concern, and one factor many healthcare providers cite is the rise of mandatory EMR systems. However, EMRs are powerful tools that can yield the following benefits:
- Improve patient safety through clinical decision support.
- Provide easier access to clinical data.
- Allow providers to easily interact with other hospitals, clinics, labs and pharmacies.
- Promote complete documentation and accurate coding.
Providers’ complaints about EMRs often center around the systems’ difficulty of use and that it detracts from the patient-provider interaction. There are ways to mitigate these drawbacks though.
Two examples are:
- Using a virtual assistant or transcriptionist to document a provider’s comments from an appointment.
- Building time into the workday for providers to enter data into the EMR.
Considering how the new technology will affect existing workflows is important, as noted in a Relias white paper on the effects of cognitive loads. When making a change in a healthcare facility’s technology, leaders need to ensure its ease of use, and they need to carefully plan the adoption strategy. Weighing the impact on case managers, providers and the rest of the care team should be part of the initial discussion.
Because the goal of technology is to improve outcomes for all, an optimal solution requires minimal learning and efficiencies over existing workflows to reduce cognitive load.
Dive more into the challenges of cognitive load on healthcare with the blog article, Cognitive Overload in Healthcare.
- Densen, P. Challenges and opportunities facing medical education. Trans Am Clin Climatol Assoc 2011; 122:48–58.