The Human Element in Electronic Health Records

“Get technology out of the way and focus on humanity,” said Kyle Ambrester, senior vice president and chief product officer of Athenahealth, last month at Xconomy’s “What’s Hot in Boston HealthTech” at the Broad Institute.

At the event’s last panel on digital health, Ambrester, along with panelists John Moore of Twine Health, Robin Heffernan of Circulation and moderator Nick Dougherty of Pulse@MassChallenge, spoke about the increasing need for compassionate care amidst the emergence of electronic health records.

In many ways, EHRs help provide better care to patients.  Heffernan, CEO and co-founder of Circulation–a company which aims to reduce hospital no-show rates and the cost of non-emergency medical transport (NEMT) by partnering with Uber– noted that providers use patient information from EHRs to identify patient travel needs. For example, a patient who uses a wheelchair can be matched with vehicle that provides proper accommodations.

But EHRs are certainly not without their critics. John Moore, CEO and co-founder of Twine Health, stressed the importance of the doctor-patient relationship.

“It’s already damaging my relationship with my patients,” Moore reflected regarding the use of electronic health records during his time as a physician.

He explained that records should not be episodal in nature, and instead should emphasize the need for collaboration from both sides – the doctor and patient.

By focusing on the value and quality of healthcare and closing gaps that exist in healthcare delivery, Moore believes the cost of healthcare can drop by 25 to 30 percent. According to Moore, this needs to be done by engaging patients differently, through interviews and more continuous forms of data collection where doctors ask patients about their wellness goals, rather than solely gathering information for the EHR at the time of an appointment

Ambrester believes the industry should let “large consumer companies take it [EHR technology] up,” so the focus can be on improving the quality of healthcare delivery and patient responsiveness.

Dougherty said, “There needs to be a disruption if there’s going to be a change in the cost-curve.”

Karishma Desai

Karishma Desai

    Karishma B. Desai is an emerging broadcast journalist interested in covering health, international and public interest stories. Desai is currently studying her M.S. in Journalism at Boston University. She also freelances as a web producer at New England Cable News. She hopes to use her skills in journalism to shed light on issues regarding mental health and disparities in health outcomes. In her free time, she enjoys dancing, chugging coffee, reading, writing and exercising.

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