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Joel Diamond 1/14/09

January 13, 2009 News 2 Comments

I love the pick-up line from The Wedding Crashers: "Some people say that we only use 15% of our brains. I say that we only use 15% of our hearts." Interacting with many of my colleagues who have adopted an EMR in their practices, it seems that most of them use only 15% of what should be the system’s capabilities.   

I recently asked a friend of mind why he hasn’t utilized many cool features like e-prescribing and a patient portal. He sheepishly answered, "To tell you the truth, I am just too damn busy. I wish that there could be some way that this technology would just make me feel like I was making a bigger difference in people’s lives and let me spend more quality time with patients."

With this in mind, I read last week’s National Research Council on Healthcare IT report with keen interest (BTW, Mr. HIStalk did a great job of summarizing the report).

The council’s esteemed panel recommended to "organize incentives, roles, workflow, processes and supporting infrastructure to support and respond to opportunities for clinical performance gains. Focus on identifying, prioritizing and managing changes in process and workflow."

Wow … that is so much more impressive than my friend’s quote!

I hope they didn’t spend too much money concluding what every front-line practitioner considers obvious. Let’s face it, most physicians are tremendously dedicated and work long hours. Any down time is spent squeezing precious extra minutes with patients, following up on tests, and calling families. Occasionally, there is even time to do preventive health.

To be fair, I would say that the technical accomplishments to date represent 15% of our needs. Let’s start working on the other 85%.


Joel Diamond, MD is chief medical officer at dbMotion, adjunct associate professor at the Department of Biomedical Informatics at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and a practicing physician at UPMC.

Comments 2
  • Right on..as one colleague said to me and I quote often…”if it costs me one nano second longer I ain’t going to use it”. But to address the problems we cannot keep muddling on and doing our best and our clinicians must find a way of integrating these tools efficiently into their practice. I think they would agree that the availability of information in a well organized and computer interpretable form is part of the solution.
    To that end getting the data in is the key element that has been missing and achiveing this wiht speech understadnign
    is going to go a long way to improve the usefulness and usability of these systems

  • More agreement from this non-doc — process and workflow are keys to success! Many IT projects leave these subjects on the sidelines expecting folks to figure it out for themselves. For clinician adoption it seems to help to fit into existing process flows as much as possible so little change is required before the benefits are felt. Change requires extra energy to overcome inertia. Tough while everyone is already using a lot of energy to get the job done! The penetration of technology in every aspect of our lives over the last few years should make it easier to get adoption in the medical workplace.

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