While there is a lot of frustration within the world of healthcare when it comes to issues like EMR usability, reimbursement struggles and regulatory constraints, Lyle Berkowitz, MD, looks into the future and envisions a time when innovative ideas and technologies can transform healthcare and make physicians happier and patients healthier.
Berkowitz, associate chief medical officer of innovation for Northwestern Memorial Healthcare, will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems Fall Symposium in Boston, talking about “Innovating Towards the Future of Healthcare.”
“How do we innovate with information technologies in a way that makes life easier for doctors and better for patients?” he asked. “Improving quality is not enough. If we want doctors to do something new, we need to either increase their joy or decrease their pain. We can’t expect easy adoption of technologies or processes that make life harder for end users, but unfortunately electronic medical records all too often do make life harder for the doctors who use them. We need to therefore take a more human-centered design thinking approach about how healthcare IT can actually make life easier for doctors and benefit patients along the way.”
Last year Berkowitz published a book, “Innovation with Information Technologies in Healthcare” in which he reviewed what innovation means in healthcare, provided guidance on how to innovate with IT in healthcare, and detailed a number of real-life examples of how CMIOs and other healthcare executives have been able to innovate with health IT.
“As I talk to my CMIO colleagues, they have the ability, desire and interest to innovate,” said Berkowitz. “They clearly can and should be involved in taking advantage of the IT infrastructure they have helped create and implement, and use it in a more innovative way.”
Looking forward, Berkowitz foresees a future that emphasizes health IT-empowered, team-based care.
“I have a mantra that we don’t have a shortage of physicians, just of a shortage of using them efficiently,” Berkowitz said. “By using HIT, we can create a future where physicians will see fewer patients face-to-face, but will be able to care of more patients as part of a larger team."
"Today's doctors all too often see themselves as the ‘hero-based physician’ who has to do everything, but the doctor of the future will need to become more like a CEO, leading a care team that includes advanced practitioners, nurses, medical assistants, community healthcare workers, social workers and the patient themselves," Berkowitz notes. "Intelligent use of HIT will then allow them to all work at the top of their license to manage a large population of patients in a collaborative manner. The lead doctor would set strategy and be involved in difficult decisions, but the team should handle all the routine care that can be automated and delegated."
“That’s a promising future,” Berkowitz said, "because right now we are burning out our doctors and if we don’t start using information technology in a smarter way we are going to be in trouble.
“Our current healthcare system is just not sustainable,” Berkowitz added. “Healthcare IT, to date, has mainly managed to make life harder for doctors. I think there needs to be a future where healthcare IT truly makes life easier for doctors and we physicians and informaticians have to be at the front and center in making that happen. That involves pushing IT vendors to make better software, developing new applications which enrich our current EMR platforms, and embracing the idea of sharing the care with both the computers and people that make our teams whole."
Berkowitz will be speaking at the AMDIS Fall Symposium Oct. 20 at the W Boston Hotel. Click here for details on how to register.