How Renown Health's Dr. Patrick Woodard ensures hospital technology improves human relationships

Patrick Woodard, MD, associate chief medical officer for IT at Reno, Nev.-based Renown Health, discusses the growing need for physician involvement in system planning and strategy, and why human relationships are critical to healthcare.

Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: How has your role as CMIO evolved over the past two to three years? How have your responsibilities changed since you took on the role?

Dr. Patrick Woodard: Before I took this role, my organization did not have a clinician or physician in any similar role. As such, when assuming initial responsibilities a few years ago, the role had a much narrower scope. There was a focus on 'fixing' things in the medical record, whether it was workflow complaints, broken orders or documentation enhancements. This core work will always remain in the CMIO's portfolio as a workflow expert and lean practitioner, but there is a growing need for physician involvement in system planning and strategy. My role has a unique view of both clinical and non-clinical aspects of the health system that has engendered a high level of respect from system leaders.

Q: What do you consider your No. 1 priority as CMIO? How do you ensure you're successful?

PW: Building positive, human relationships will always be critical to health. The question, as algorithms and artificial intelligence improve, will be how to best ensure the 'human touch' can reach our patients, wherever they are. In that way, technology works as an adjunct to human interaction to support the Quadruple Aim. To support that, my top priority is to ensure that our implementation of technology supports that — to be sure we provide value, improve human relationships and support health. Making sure we create happiness and reduce anxiety in the process is important, too.

Q: Which apps and technologies do you find most helpful, and which do you think will be passing fads?

PW: Seamless application at the point of care is the most important element for all clinical applications. I have seen several vendors promoting their 'platform as a service' applications that overlay the EMR. I don't think that's the answer. Instead, apps that work within existing, previously implemented software, such as Epic's App Orchard and Cerner's App Gallery, may have much more utility.

Accordingly, the most helpful applications are directly integrated, including patient-facing portals and integrated clinical communications tools. On the patient-facing side, virtual care will be instrumental in reaching patients where they are and will be critical in reaching population health goals.

Here at Renown, we are also working through the Healthy Nevada Project to personalize medicine and treatment plans for patients by better understanding their genetics.

Q: How do you feel about the use of voice recognition technology, such as Amazon's 'Alexa' and Google Assistant, in healthcare? Is there a place for its use within the EHR?

PW: This is such an exciting time. Voice recognition will definitely make its way into the EHR, as it should, but not until it is consistently more accurate. A good 10 percent of the time, my bathroom lights turn on when I want my bedroom lights to. That's fine in my house, but not fine when we need to know the difference between Inderal, a blood pressure medication, and Adderall. As the technology matures, voice recognition will ultimately be able to make great strides in provider satisfaction with the EMR and greatly improve convenience and clinician-patient relationships.

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