Shriners Hospitals for Children CMIO Dr. Richard Paula: EHRs fail to live up to hype

Jackie Drees - Print  | 

Richard Paula, MD, shares the biggest challenge he faces as chief medical information officer at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Tampa (Fla.) and the shortfalls of modern technology in the healthcare space.

Dr. Paula, who previously served as CMIO at Tampa General Hospital, has special expertise in emergency medicine. He worked as an emergency medicine physician at TGH for nine years before taking on the role of CMIO. He also taught as a clinical emergency medicine associate professor for more than a decade at University of South Florida College of Medicine in Tampa.

As CMIO, Dr. Paula oversees the medical informatics plan for all 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children systems. Here, he discusses how the hospital system plans to use technology to improve patient and clinician communications.

Editor's Note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: What do you find frustrates your clinicians most about the EHR?  

Dr. Richard Paula: The failure to fulfill the promise. Technology promises to improve our lives, to make our lives easier, more convenient and more fun. The modern EHR has done none of this; it has made our lives worse as physicians. It has taken time away from our interactions with our patients and time away from our families.

Q: What technologies has your organization implemented to improve data sharing between patients and clinicians? 

RP: We are expanding the capabilities of our patient portal to include interfacing with our staff. Ultimately this will include the ability to perform a telemedicine visit directly through our Cerner [EHR] Millennium patient portal.

Q: What is the biggest challenge you're facing as CMIO? What keeps you up at night?

RP: Physician burnout is real. Many things adversely affect the well being of our medical staff across the system, but technology in particular is contributing toward feelings of frustration and powerlessness. Physicians are responding by cutting their hours and their careers short. 

Q: What is one method of technology you expect to really take off in the healthcare space within the next five years? 

RP: Anything that will improve the human interface with technology. Shriners Hospitals has streamlined the login process and we are expanding the use of voice command and voice recognition in combination with widespread mobile access, which will shorten interface time and improve how physicians interact with technology.

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