• Jonathan White

What the EHR Is Not

Much has been made over the years about the electronic health or medical record (EHR/EMR) as savior and devil. In truth they are both and neither. EHRs are built to be a digital version of the patient chart. They contain the medical and treatment histories of a patient at a particular care setting or system. EHRs have served as a huge advancement in healthcare, but at their core, they are a warehouse for data.

As savior, being digital, EHRs allow the easy accessing and sharing of medical records – between patient and provider and between all providers involved in a patient’s care.

As devil, what sits in one provider’s EHR is not easily viewed by another provider in his/her EHR. Sure, content can be shared or sent by proactive partners on both sides, but not instantly viewed across systems. There is a lag.

As savior, EHRs establish a place for providers to document their patient visits with the knowledge that it is secure, billable and can be called up on-demand. Yet, there are dropped balls.

As devil, providers often feel the EHR has turned them into glorified secretaries, and are resentful that EHRs take them away from patient care and/or keep them up late at night to complete. Burnout ensues.

The cycle continues, with no real sponsor for thinking or expecting differently.

The EHR is provider-centric by nature. It is built to capture and store the documentation of a medical visit and the orders and treatments that are recommended from that encounter. It captures the clinical nature of patient care.

Our team of providers and healthcare professionals here at Dock Health recognized the majority of patient care in today’s environment is, sadly, not clinical. The majority of patient care today is, in fact, administrative. Accepting these questions as reality led us to incept and create our HIPAA-compliant task management company for healthcare. Yet, not for the creation of more administration, but rather for the management of it, the reduction of dropped balls, and the mitigation of healthcare burnout.

You may have read in other postings from us that we believe “everything in healthcare is a task”, and that “tasks are the actionable units of healthcare.” We are relatively unique in this viewpoint and are carving out a new space for a technology solution and meeting the resistance that happens when you do that. We hear things like “the EHR does that”, or “doesn’t the EHR do that?”, or “why doesn’t the EHR do that?”

We hear that from providers who frankly have very little visibility into the administrative cascade that an order kicks off. The “magic” performed by staff members is largely done (or not done) away from their view.

We hear that from high level administrators who have paid enormous amounts of money for the EHR, but aren’t in the trenches every day handling the myriad of administrative tasks that accompanies patient care. Those administrative tasks have no home in the EHR.

As stated above, EHRs are warehouses of data. Data itself is not actionable. It is retrievable, it is viewable, it is sendable, it is editable. It is not actionable. Therefore, what is the EHR not? It is not an actionable platform; it is not a task management solution for healthcare teams. The EHR can initiate events (i.e. start patient on Remicade), but it has no knowledge of or place for the overflow of administrative events that have to happen for that order to be fulfilled.

Dock bridges the clinical and the administrative worlds into one complementary workflow that offers reliability, accountability, transparency and measurability across every member of the entire care team. It looks like this:

  • The provider enters an order

  • The defined template of required tasks is initiated

  • Assignments are made

  • Due dates are given, and

  • The whole process can be viewed by the care team at any point, in real-time

Furthermore, the workflow can be measured for bottlenecks, inefficiencies, optimization and effectiveness all specifically tailored to your healthcare organization.

That is what task management in healthcare looks like. An EHR is not built for this..

Yet, this is what teams are seeking, needing and will benefit from.

“It has become apparent that we have really no great way to track patients and tasks. I mean excel is pretty cool and all but that shiny new ‘90s technology is really not up to the task.” -- Endocrinologist at Boston Children's Hospital

Trying to either cobble together old technology or use current technology that isn’t HIPAA compliant will honestly compound the administrative burden, burnout and number of dropped balls. The healthcare industry deserves better.

Dock is the solution. Born at Boston Children’s Hospital, run by a practicing pediatric GI doc who worked to solve his own pain points, and steeped in the knowledge of the workflows and integrations necessary to make processes easier and more reliable. The end result is better care, better outcomes, better provider and staff satisfaction.

A better way to-do healthcare.

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