In last week’s blog from HIMSS, I talked about the need to go beyond the buzzwords and “look under the hood” to understand what’s driving all of these new analytics and intelligent automation solutions that are making their way to market. A lot of questions still remain about how to make the outputs of all of this analysis actionable. As healthcare slowly enters the digital age, hospital by hospital and EMR implementation by EMR implementation, the wealth of data now available to be analyzed, dissected, quantified, and modeled is spurring plenty of new ideas and solutions. Healthcare is shifting from a pay for procedure to a pay for quality/pay for performance model, which is driving the need for actionable data that can be presented to clinicians and care teams at the point of care where they can make use of that data to improve outcomes for their patients.
We’ve all heard the phrase “alert fatigue” used to describe physicians and care providers being overwhelmed with messages and prompts to the point where they don’t pay attention to them anymore. It’s kind of like that constant flashing “12:00″ on your old VCR when you just never found the time to set the clock. All of these analytics and automated prompts driven by various NLP engines run the risk of turning into a flashing “12:00″ in a physician’s daily workflow. If we’re going to alert physicians to a high-risk patient, or prompt them to make their documentation more clear and complete, we have to really understand physicians and their workflows. Analyzing data and generating a prompt or an alert or a message is the easy part. Knowing how to present that information to a physician, in the format they want, and at the right point in their workflow is the part that is going to require a deeper dive.
I’ve done a number of workflow assessments at hospitals. It’s kind of like “take your kid to work day” where the parent is a doctor, but only this time I’m the kid. It gives me a chance to see the routines and workloads that physicians and others on the care team go through on a daily basis. My biggest takeaway from these projects is that any product or solution designed for a physician needs to have some built-in flexibility. No two physicians manage their day the same way, even though they share the same goal of providing the highest quality medical care that they can. If the healthcare industry is going to leverage technology to assist physicians, caregivers and other members of the hospital team—from CDI specialists to coders to case managers—then technology has to work with these key players in an easy to use, customizable way. If we can do this, it will be truly buzzworthy.