Physician viewpoint: We must teach computers how to interact with humans for EHR optimization

While technology has made significant advancements in healthcare, from EHRs to health sensory wearables, computers still have ample room for growth in helping improve the patient and clinician experience, according to Vanderbilt University Medical Center physician Yaa Kumah-Crystal, MD.

In an interview for the Nashville, Tenn.-based health system's blog, Dr. Kumah-Crystal, a biomedical informatics and pediatric endocrinology assistant professor at VUMC, shared how computers can help benefit patients and clinicians in the exam room and with EHR systems.

While computers have the potential to help enhance care experiences, such as adding voice technology to the EHR to record a patient's symptoms so the physician can listen and focus on what the individual is saying, data experts need to teach the devices how to do so, according to Dr. Kumah-Crystal.

"There's this concept that when you're using technology with another person in the room it has to be directly benefiting them, otherwise it's stealing their time," Dr. Kumah-Crystal said. "But right now, no one has taught the computer to do that. I feel like it's the job of an informatician to teach a computer how to interact with humans."

Appointing an individual who has expertise in data and whose role is to use data science to help optimize human functions will help computers be more effective in interacting with humans. An example of this that Dr. Kumah-Crystal is working on is a pilot project within VUMC's pediatric endocrinology department, where the computer and EHR is being trained in voice commands so it can retrieve information within the EHR per the clinician's request.

More articles on EHRs:
Kaiser Permanente to add EHR alerts for follow-up tests after abnormal lab results
Idaho updates patient record access rule
St. Luke's Medical Center to install Allscripts EHR

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