On this blog, I've written about many subjects pertinent to the practice of medicine. This has always been from my perspective as a frontline physician, focusing on some of the challenges we see every day in hospital care. There is however one topic that I've written about more than any other, and it's one that is of particular interest to me: our interaction with health care information technology. Simply put, it is one of the biggest issues facing frontline health care at the moment—and for a number of reasons.
A massive change we've witnessed over the last several years has been the proliferation of technology at the frontlines of medicine. This is due in no small part to Meaningful Use, which is the federal government's financial incentive program to make hospitals and clinics across the United States fully computerized. And while I don't doubt that there may have been some noble intentions behind the push to make health care more technologically advanced, the way the process has unfolded, and the current IT solutions that exist are largely suboptimal, inefficient and cumbersome.
Ask any frontline physician (or nurse), and they will list health care IT as one of their biggest daily frustrations, as we are having to spend increasing amounts of our day navigating these systems. Even the simplest of tasks, such as ordering a Tylenol, simply takes too long to accomplish in what is supposed to be the faster world of information technology. Studies back up these concerns too, with research suggesting that physicians are now spending as little as 10% of their day in direct patient care. A statistic that is, quite frankly, a little sick.
So rather than just keep writing about the problem, I decided to actually do something more substantive. I founded HealthITImprove.com (HITI), an organization dedicated to working towards better and more efficient health care IT at the frontlines of medicine. We are guided by our core principles:
Health care IT represents the future of medicine but must be reconciled with frontline clinical workflow
Physicians (and nurses) should spend as much time as possible in direct patient care
Health care IT solutions should be designed to enable physicians to spend maximum time with patients
Health care IT should be discouraged from being used when talking to patients, because the core of good bedside medicine is direct eye contact and good face-to-face communication
All health care IT should be designed to be efficient, seamless and user-friendly
Are you a doctor, nurse or even a patient who agrees with our values and mission? Then visit www.HealthITImprove.com today and join us in our campaign to make health care IT better.
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Suneel Dhand, MD, ACP Member, is a practicing physician in Massachusetts. He has published numerous articles in clinical medicine, covering a wide range of specialty areas including; pulmonology, cardiology, endocrinology, hematology, and infectious disease. He has also authored chapters in the prestigious "5-Minute Clinical Consult" medical textbook. His other clinical interests include quality improvement, hospital safety, hospital utilization, and the use of technology in health care. This post originally appeared at his blog.