Stanford Medicine dean Dr. Lloyd Minor: What microscopes and EHRs have in common

It took nearly 70 years for the microscope, which was invented in the 16th century, to help  make any scientific breakthroughs. Why? Some have theorized its lack of vision may have clouded scientists from realizing its potential. But now, the same may be happening with the EHR, writes Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the Stanford (Calif.) University School of Medicine in an op-ed for Fortune.

While EHRs digitally record all aspects of patient care, it has been nearly 10 years since their widespread adoption and they have yet to advance data-driven medicine and prove their potential.

"The reasons for this are complex, but one fact not lost on physicians is that, early on, EHRs became systems optimized for billing, not patient care," Dr. Minor writes. "How can we begin to turn this tide? I believe we should start by asking physicians."

Stanford hosted its inaugural National Symposium on EHRs June 4 to bring together healthcare executives, physicians and developers to brainstorm how EHRs can generate greater value. Concurrently, it published the results from a survey it conducted with The Harris Poll leading up to the event, which found physicians spend a majority of their patient care time (62 percent) interacting with EHRs, which not only contributes to physician burnout (70 percent), but about half of physicians now feel EHRs detract from their clinical effectiveness.

Dr. Minor argues it's time to rethink the EHR, which will include not only considering its design and use, but also physicians' "role in shaping the future," Dr. Minor writes — similar to how scientists' relationship with the microscope evolved.

"The lapse between the microscope's invention and its contributions to science are a sobering reminder that tools don't create transformation on their own; they need persistent innovation and experimentation by stakeholders who challenge assumptions" Mr. Minor writes. "But if the microscope's decades-long journey is sobering, it is equally heartening as an indication of what’s possible when, after sustained effort and determination, hidden worlds suddenly come into view."

Click here to access Dr. Minor's complete op-ed.

More articles on EHRs:
Allscripts' CEO Paul Black throws first pitch at Cubs game
Nearly 70 Penn State Health facilities go live on Cerner EHR
North Mississippi Health System taps Mercy to support Epic implementation

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