Why EMRs have become the dreaded 'pushup' of healthcare — Good Samaritan CIO talks challenges and opportunity

Danny Scott, CIO at Vincennes, Ind.-based Good Samaritan, has been the head of IT at the hospital for the past three years.

With an extensive background in health IT, Mr. Scott has seen the healthcare industry evolve. However, he also sees great potential for healthcare providers and hospitals to become more tech savvy. 

Below, Mr. Scott discusses the future of EMRs as well as why every CIO needs a game plan for telehealth. 

Editor’s note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length. 

Question: If you could solve one health IT challenge/headache overnight, what would it be and why? 

Danny Scott: Imagine you had to do 10 pushups before you sent an email. At some point you would start to hate sending emails. Actually, you don’t hate email — you just hate the work required before you send emails. For anyone providing health services, the EMR has become the pushup. Healthcare providers, nurses and clinicians love healthcare and its purpose; it’s why they got involved. Having to use an EMR is the painful part of providing healthcare and causing some to question their career; many are getting burned out. Making the EMR (the pushup) much easier should be the paramount goal of every EMR company; in time, it will get there. Using EMR’s, in the provision of healthcare, is still in its infancy. The future will be bold, compared to today’s environments, and will utilize voice, artificial intelligence and machine learning to deliver care. Using voice as the input for EMR interaction will be the defining factor in solving the ‘burn out’ factor and will bring the joy back into healthcare for many.

Q: How has the rise in consumerism changed the way you look at healthcare? 

DS: Now I’m truly a part of the solution. In the past, patients were told what to do in terms of their healthcare. Now patients are expected to be highly engaged, well informed and use the information to make educated decisions. The healthcare industry is behind in the idea of seeing people as consumers. There is a big debate whether a person in need of service is a patient or a customer. Initially, I lean towards customer because they have a choice. Now I see our customers as consumers because they are, like in most industries, equipped to make decisions based on all the information, i.e. buying a car, and there is a market to make those choices.  

People are buying healthcare based on what they need to improve and manage their care. Patient portals have been around for a while, but now the information provided is growing more and more. Access to providers is greater — you can email your physician with a question. Wearables are making it easier for people to better understand their health with current data at their disposal. We now have the ability to easily consume health data and be proactive in the maintenance of our bodies; just like we do with our cars.

Q: What is one health IT fad you want to leave behind in 2019? And what is one thing every CIO needs in his/her playbook? 

DS: As for a fad, honestly, I don’t see anything. Healthcare is in an exciting era. I see and read about new innovations on a weekly basis. I don’t find anything where I would say “we don’t need that”. Everything I’m learning about I see as a useful tool in the provision of care. It all leads to better understanding and better outcomes for all involved. The next 10 years will be amazing in healthcare. 

A playbook must-have is a telehealth strategy; it is the future of healthcare. The days of going to a physician’s office for routine, non-critical situations will decline dramatically over the next few years; as seen by some organizations who were first adopters of this technology. The technology has been there for some time; it’s just getting the EMR/Billing/Reimbursement pieces in place. This will require a massive cultural shift by providers and consumers; it’s a whole new way of thinking about delivery of care. The main benefit is it provides great flexibility and frees up the consumer, plus it allows the provider to work from anywhere. I just attended the first annual Upper Midwest Telehealth Resource Center conference in July. It was a small group, but I heard some very powerful examples of hospitals leveraging this service with great success. I see it as a real game changer.

If someone doesn’t have it now, it would be surprising because the costs are so low. Telehealth opens up the world for healthcare. The only limitation is culture. 

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