Physician to health IT entrepreneurs: Baking in the user perspective makes a difference

This article was originally published here

A physician took to Venture Beat in an effort to tell health IT entrepreneurs what doctors want from clinical decision support tools, what they’re not getting and how to improve the user experience.

In her open letter Dr. Christine Stock, a professor of anesthesiology at Northwestern University and adviser to Health2047, asked startups to reach out to physicians when their technology is in the early stages. The goal is to avoid cumbersome products that stymie workflow, stress physicians and make their jobs more difficult.

“Baking in the user perspective makes a difference,” Stock said in the letter.

But although Stock’s letter was aimed at entrepreneurs, she also highlighted other frustrations for doctors. Stock noted “labyrinthine federal billing documentation regulations”, “incredibly complicated ICD-10 codes”, floods of data, and other factors. She also admitted that the time constraints on physicians mean not enough doctors are making the time to offer feedback to improve health IT software.

Stock outlined a wish list of clinical decision support tools for mobile devices and electronic medical records:

  • Design for mobility, integrating smart-phone-based applications;
  • Decrease documentation time (perhaps with speech recognition built into progress note functionality that would allow field population in EMRs as the physician is confirming information with the patient);
  • Develop all EMR applications on open platforms that allow straightforward communication between systems;
  • The creation of a common medical identification number for every person starting at birth;
  • Patient ownership of their own medical information;
  • The ability to cull and curate new and existing scientific evidence;
  • The ability to use that curated evidence in medical decision making (perhaps through contextual, assistive pattern-matching algorithms).

Although Stock’s letter makes it clear that health IT vendors could stand to be much better partners than they currently are, it’s interesting to see how much the attitudes have changed. I can recall in 2011 and part of 2012 when I would hear health IT startups make their pitches, it was with the assumption and expectation that physician practices would have no choice but to work with them. One would half expect to hear, “you’re welcome” before they stepped down from the stage.

Just a few years later, entrepreneurs certainly are a lot more humble. There are also more experienced, thoughtful people occupying leadership roles at these — men and women who have firsthand experience of working in a hospital setting or more willing to seek out their perspective of physicians to figure out their needs.

Photo: Bigstock

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