Looking back on when I was a medical student, one of my favorite things to do was sift through the charts for the two or three patients I would carry. I always found it satisfying to look at all of the data and find order amidst the sea of chaos. It was rewarding, and I even made up a special color-coding system with my gel roll pens to organize the information on paper. But that was about 10 years ago.
Fast forward to 2016 and now I’m an attending physician. Recently, a resident that I was working with pulled out a piece of paper and I saw that his method of organizing his patients’ information was similar to mine when I was a medical student. However, he carried many more patients. His pager went off every five or ten minutes. And he had many forms to fill out, family meetings to attend… The list goes on.
I was struck by his situation. His pain was palpable and I couldn’t help but take it on as my own. I reflected that in many instances, the electronic health records and other systems in place aren’t built to make physicians’ workloads effective and efficient.
On the other hand, it’s exciting that there’s a lot of buzz around digital health at the moment, and I’m thrilled that over 165,000 health-related apps have been built to date. And while this is great news, adoption of technology in healthcare is slow. In fact, paging remains widely used for communications within hospitals. One study reported that the volume and rate of paging hasn’t changed in 25 years, although newer more effective technologies are available. And out of all of the apps that have been built, over 50 percent serve only a narrow functionality, meaning they only provide information. We need apps in healthcare that are multifunctional— that instruct, record, display, guide, remind, communicate, and integrate with the EMR—rather than apps that solely provide information.
So while change is happening, meaningful and lasting change takes time, and there’s still much work to be done. At Valeet Healthcare, we’re committed to boosting healthcare system quality metrics, giving patients meaningful and actionable data, and easing the workflow of providers so they can shine as clinicians in turn allowing their patients to exceed expectations when it comes to their health outcomes.