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DOCtalk by Dr. Gregg 10/14/12

October 14, 2012 News 3 Comments

Yawn … More HIT?

Maybe I’m shooting myself and the good folks of the HIStalk family in the collective foot, but I’ve been wondering recently: Are we starting to reach the point where HIT is becoming passé?

In this world of faster and faster obsolescence where all things cool are soon usurped by the next latest and greatest, it’s no surprise when something so recently “hot” joins the ranks of the has-beens. Even longtime “wow” leaders struggle to keep leading the leading edge. Gosh, golly, gee, even that paragon of new release fan-mania, Apple, seemed to lose a little of its “Whoa!-factor” with the latest release of the iPhone 5.

So, I suppose it’s no wonder that as the adoption of HIT picked up (along with the MU stimulus checks), it, too, seems to be succumbing to the fading rose phenomenon.

To wit, the other day I heard someone who had adopted an EHR for their office just a year or two ago make the comment (paraphrased):

“It seems like all this EHR stuff is mostly just an expensive version of my old paper charts. It’s probably been worth the effort, especially for the insights into our practice and patient care methods, but it should be more than this. I read HIT stuff these days, but it all sounds the same. Where’s all this information sharing and provider linking and population data enhancement stuff we were promised… that everybody’s still promising?”

While I assured him that many good folks are spending many long hours working to bring about all the interoperability and data connections he desires, I could see in his eyes that the luster and shine was off of the HIT apple for him. HIT had stopped producing a dopamine surge in his synapses and he was looking for a new digital fix to bolster the HIT feel good factor.

I’ve seen many cool new tools – and many wow-inducing products still in the developmental pipeline – but it appears that, at least for some, the current crop of HIT is more of a yawn than a new harvest of can’t-wait-to-get-it-let’s-get-in-line-early-dopamine-producing fun.

HIT has been around long enough that I suppose it may be time that we focus less on the cool new tools and toys and more upon what we can actually do with them. Compare it to how cool it was to download all those fun-looking apps on your latest tablet or smartphone. How many apps do you have that you never actually use and that have just taken up memory from a day or two after you got them? (If you’re like me, there’s a ton of them!) We still use the cool tools, but now it’s less about the “wow” of the tool and its apps; now it’s more about what we can do with them.

Maybe HIT has started to become less of a headliner and is becoming more of a stagehand. Maybe its focus is – and perhaps should be – shifting. That shift in focus, that reemphasis upon the reasons for which we’re actually doing all this (i.e., improving health and healthcare), should be a really good thing. At least, I hope so.

(To Inga and Dr. Jayne: I apologize if the strange image conjured up by that HIStalk “collective foot” comment offended your foot- and fashion footwear-related senses.)

From the trenches…

(Special and most sincere thanks to Mr. H for posting an announcement of the new asthma education-consumer engagement app I’ve been involved with developing. Please check it if you haven’t and you may find an iPad in your mail soon!)

“A new idea is delicate. It can be killed with a sneer or a yawn…” – Ovid

Dr. Gregg Alexander, a grunt in the trenches pediatrician at Madison Pediatrics, is Chief Medical Officer for Health Nuts Media, directs the Pediatric Office of Today! exhibit for the American Academy of Pediatrics, and sits on the board of directors of the Ohio Health Information Partnership (OHIP).

Comments 3
  • Dr. Gregg,

    I think you bring up a really good point which I believe highlights the evolution of technology adoption. Just like you stated, we were all wowed with the first generations of the iPhone and now iPhone 5 seems so underwhelming.

    I for one think that this is a good thing in HIT. It signals that HIT is now mainstream in most healthcare facilities and we are in the same doldrums as the rest of the business community, these are the tools that are the norm in our business and not some big wow tool. If you are not thinking much about the tool, and more about how to use it effectively in your organization, and spending more time on optimization and less time on implementing new bigger, faster, more features, then you’ve reached a level of sustainability.

    The rest of the business world reached that over 10 years ago. Note how little Microsoft Office products have changed, the last really big upgrade was the 2007 release. QuickBooks and other mass market business applications have reached the same life cycle.

    I believe it’s important for EHR vendors to continue to develop their products on the leading (vs. bleeding) edge, to keep current and continue to improve functionality and add features that continue to improve patient care, but not so much that an organization is redesigning their workflows all the time to meet the upgrades.

  • HIStalk Practice readers: I love ya!!!

    One little mention at the end of this blog post today and folks have already come from here to our asthma app crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.com and contributed, sharing $$ and kinds words. Thank you so much!!!

    We’re all about changing how health and health issues are addressed, making it easier and more fun, to try and raise health literacy – which improves health outcomes. This asthma app will hopefully be the first of many to come in our quest to “bring Hollywood to healthcare” (well, healthcare education at least!)

    Again, HIStalk peeps, THANK YOU!

  • It might seem doldrum, but if we put shiny new things in front of those who are struggling with their current adoption of HIT, the core and basic functions will not get the attention they need to be fully implemented.

    The idea of new innovations in the field should keep the industry and vendors moving forward, but only when the end-users are ready.

    Thank you!!

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