Jonathan Bush: We're using old technology to measure how bad new technology is

Jonathan Bush, co-founder and CEO of athenahealth, has long been a vocal critic of government involvement and regulation of health technology products, and the recent study indicating providers spend twice as much time on EHRs and administrative work than they do with their patients spurred more thoughts from Mr. Bush on what the industry can do to decrease provider dissatisfaction and increase care quality. In short, he urges for more real-time fixes and less retrospective analysis.

In a post written on STAT, Mr. Bush said he wasn't shocked by the results of the study; rather, it is just "a fresh headline to old news, reinforcing what we already know too well: the more our country spends on traditional EHR software, the more time providers must spend on them, the more dissatisfied they become, the more frustrated patients feel, and the more expensive healthcare gets."

While the ONC has the best of intentions with its regulatory requirements for health IT products, the regulations impede innovation in the private sector and turn caregivers into box-checkers, Mr. Bush wrote. Instead of improving care for patients, the regulatory environment is stifling.

What's more, the industry is using outdated technologies to evaluate new technologies, according to Mr. Bush. "We find ourselves in 2016 using the very latest stopwatches and journals to figure out just how bad our technology problem is," he wrote. "The very idea that we're measuring 21st century technological performance with 19th century technology — the clipboard and stopwatch — is a nightmare of the absurd that only healthcare…could conjure up."

Instead, Mr. Bush wrote the healthcare industry should be constantly evaluating technological performance in real-time, which he suggests should be done using network-enabled technology.

Athenahealth operates a network-enabled platform, which Mr. Bush writes is the exception in healthcare even though it is mainstream in other industries, pointing to companies like Amazon and Facebook that proactively analyze user experience to test and change fixes in real-time. Such networks have all the data, which can quickly be used to inform decisions.

"When will we declare that the software-based EHR, as we've known it, is dead?" Mr. Bush wrote.

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