Here's why University Medical Group's Shon Brink says health IT is a myth: 4 questions with the executive director of finance, business operations

In this special Speaker Series, Becker's Healthcare caught up with Shon Brink, executive director of finance and business operations at University Medical Group in Greenville (S.C.) Health System.

Ms. Brink will speak on a panel during the Becker's Hospital Review 4th Annual Health IT + Revenue Cycle Conference titled "The Best Thoughts on Improving Revenue Cycle Today," at 1:45 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19. Learn more about the event and register to attend in Chicago.

Question: How does your organization gain physician buy-in when it is implementing a new technology or solution?

Shon Brink: The best way to gain physician buy-in is by giving them something that saves them time, rather than costing them time. Very little in the health IT space related to EMRs has done this yet. Some newer approaches like individual health records are gaining traction because they are proving to save time and it is less dramatic to gain buy-in when the administrative burden is reduced.

Q: What is the most exciting thing happening in health IT right now? And what is the most overrated health IT trend?

SB: The most exciting thing happening in health IT right now is the emergence of the individual health record, or IHR, and establishing an individual health record for every person. The most overrated IT trend is interoperability — it simply doesn't work. It is just the next failure, following "EMRs for all" and "[health information exchanges] are the answer." Population health is also much ado about nothing — one cannot ever care for a population, [but] one can care for individual patients.

Q: What's the biggest misconception about health IT?

SB: The biggest misconception about health IT is that it has significant value. In summary, it has dramatically decreased throughput, mandated staff increases, delivered virtually no documented quality savings and increased costs substantially — driving many hospital systems to near closure. It is just a myth supported by the fact that so much money has been spent on it that it must work. It does not by virtually any measure, and would have been shut down in any other industry long ago. What it has done is made a couple of vendors very wealthy while bankrupting most of their clients in all axes: patient satisfaction, physician satisfaction, workload efficiency and effectiveness, fiscal prudence and stewardship, and quality enhancement.

Q: How has your organization improved the revenue cycle process in the past year? Or, if your organization hasn't improved its revenue cycle process, how would you go about it?

SB: We saw the most improvement in our revenue cycle this year through being transparent and tracking metrics relating to what was and was not working well. These conversations led to partnerships that have since improved collaboration, engagement, coding education, operational accountability through key performance indicators, optimization of IT systems and workflows, enhanced communication and continuous feedback related to the monitoring of results. The activities above led to enhanced charge capture processes, improved documentation by providers, and reduced denials from payers, which ultimately improves almost all measurable metrics.

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