Clinical Support Beyond the Interface

If one of the stated benefits of information technology is to support the physician’s decision making process, how will the physician’s role evolve as we increasingly come to rely on technology for support? This question assumes that we will continue to use technology to support, not replace the physician (or nurses or other clinicians for that matter). Until the time comes when we have managed to capture and represent all current medical knowledge through technology, the physician is likely to remain the primary observer; technology cannot yet take histories or connect the important dots within a complex personal narrative. Meanwhile, there will be new challenges that must be understood and managed; for example:

  • We must go deeper than the clinician-machine interface, and examine whether the data we currently collect is a capable foundation for a future of sophisticated analysis and support;
  • The concept of “interface” must evolve beyond the presentation of information and related input/response mechanisms to include clinical technology’s apparent cognitive process, so that it more closely complements clinical decision making;
  • Clinicians must take leadership roles in analyzing the current interface and describing what works and what doesn’t work;

Obviously,the art of medicine will increasingly include the ability to accurately describe the patient narrative to a technical support system in a format that can be processed not only for immediate patient benefit, but in a way that can be collected and analyzed in order to build medical knowledge and eventually, better quality of care for all. Physicians, nurses and other clinicians should be at the center of this movement.

Some questions:

  1. If you are a provider, what do current systems get right?
  2. What do they miss?
  3. In what ways do current EHR systems compromise your ability to provide quality care?

-Rod Piechowski

Copyright © 2010, Rod Piechowski, Inc., Consulting

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