Epic, Cerner 2048: What will EHRs look like in 25 years?

Medical record technology has evolved from the filing cabinet to artificial intelligence, and the next 25 years should see significant advancements in EHR technology.

When asked by Becker's to predict what EHRs will look like in 25 years, CIOs pointed to AI as a tool that could further enhance their development.

"Clinical decision support will be powered by evidence-based augmented intelligence tools and treatment recommendations will be specific to each individual patient," Edward Lee, MD, CIO of Oakland, Calif.-based Permanente Foundation, told Becker's. "These recommendations will be exquisitely precise by not only using a patient's genomic data, but also through incorporation of their social determinants of health. The combination of these factors will support the delivery of equitable care that minimizes bias and will yield the highest quality outcomes healthcare has to offer."

Recently, EHR vendors have been at the forefront of bringing AI to healthcare. Epic partnered with Microsoft to use GPT-4 in its offerings. 

Zafar Chaudry, MD, CIO and chief digital officer at Seattle Children's, projected that "artificial intelligence and machine learning with advanced data analytics" will become standard practice.

As providers continue to share data and work together on maximizing digital tools, CIOs predict interoperability challenges that have traditionally been the bane of EHRs and the healthcare industry will fade away.

"My hope is that we have overcome the challenges of interoperability that have plagued the healthcare industry historically," said Darrell Bodnar, CIO of Whitefield, N.H.-based North Country Healthcare. "We are just starting to see improvements, but we have a long way to go. We should be able to effortlessly connect healthcare providers, hospitals, clinics, and even pharmacies, allowing them to access patient information in real time. There will be no more disconnected systems, fragmented data, or barriers of information."

Some CIOs even predicted the complete globalization of EHR technology and data sharing. Oracle Cerner has looked to increase its global footprint as it has launched innovation partnerships with providers in Saudi Arabia. 

"EHRs all around the world will be fully interoperable," Dr. Lee said. "Whether a patient receives care in an isolated part of the Saharan Desert or in the sprawling metropolis of New York City, we will benefit from a complete medical record that will help physicians deliver comprehensive, high-quality, person-centered care."

EHR innovation poses new ethical and security-related dilemmas, especially when locking down patients' personal health information.

"I hope that our current security and privacy issues are resolved, and data is owned by the patient, effortlessly deciding who should be able to access the data and when," Mr. Bodnar said. "There will be no question of the integrity of the data due to long-term implementation of blockchain-like technology, and every patient will be uniquely identified, nationally if not globally."

Dr. Chaudry believes that AI could be used to enhance patient privacy and that "regulatory frameworks and standards will likely evolve to protect patients' rights and promote ethical practices in EHR utilization."

For patients, the biggest benefit of digital health innovation is that clinicians will actually spend less time in the EHR and more time with them at the bedside. Manual tasks could be automated.

"There will be no data entry — all communications will be captured by ambient voice technologies," said Mr. Bodnar. Epic recently added Suki, an AI-powered assistant that can generate notes from clinical conversations to its EHR.

"Clerical burden that is often attributed to today's EHRs will be all but eliminated, and physicians and other members of the care team will have an undistracted focus on empathic, caring human interactions with their patients," said Dr. Lee. "Some of the things the EHR will do: synthesize relevant summaries of clinical data, suggest diagnostic tests, provide differential diagnoses, and create concise progress notes, all within a matter of seconds."

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars