Monday, October 22, 2012
Dear Apple, please get into the EHR business
Image courtesy of iclipart.com
I’ve recently had a series of visits to the doctor for various checkups for myself and others and even one Emergency Room visit (which turned out fine) and have noticed many exciting changes.
One practice had an announcement that they were now an ACO, emphasizing that this will lead to higher quality, more coordinated care while not impacting their Medicare Benefits. A couple of practices gave me little sheets of paper with instructions on signing up for an online portal to get access to test results, appointment scheduling and even the ability to email a doctor. I also noticed flat screen monitors in the waiting room of one practice, which had a slide show of flowers at the time, but supposedly will be showing health education and messaging soon. And, in one case, a dermatologist merged patient education and her personalized recommendations on a document within the EHR and printed it for me. Beyond my own experiences, our newly released Cybercitizen Health® U.S. study found that among consumers who have seen a doctor or nurse in the past year, nearly 3 in 5 of them said their healthcare provider used an EHR during the consult.
In all cases, EHRs were used, and in all cases the way in which the HCPs used them was discouraging – not from a content point of view, but from a usability point of view. I made sure I was positioned to view the screens and it seemed that each stage of the consultation required 3-5 clicks and as many windows to retrieve or input data. Many times, I had to tell the doctor they had information or past records in the system, as the system didn’t display or indicate historical data. Finally I made a remark to one physician: “If only Apple would design these for you.” The physician half laughed and half looked longingly.
Improving usability of these systems – while not a straightforward endeavor – will be critical in driving patient adoption. The recent uproar over the Apple Maps debacle on the iPhone 5 release is useful to keep in mind as a benchmark of consumer expectations about how well their digital tools should work.