Hospitals, turn up the heat on vendors if you want EHRs to improve

EHRs are essentially multi-million dollar products that capture data, but what hospitals really need is decision support information that reduces the possibility of physician errors to improve patient safety, expert says.
By Tom Sullivan
03:19 PM
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EHRs improving

NEW YORK — The time has come for hospital IT executives to become much more demanding customers of their electronic health records vendors to bolster clinical decision support, reduce medical errors and ultimately improve patient safety.

“It’s up to us to demand that EMR vendors provide us with good decision support,” Mount Sinai President and COO David Reich said at the HealthImpact East Conference Monday. “Interacting with Epic or other EMR vendors presents certain challenges because they tend to want things in their domain, so we have to innovate outside their domain.”

Part of the issue is that the healthcare industry currently has a lot more innovation than it does validation, according to Neil Carpenter, Vice President of Strategic Planning and Research at LifeBridge Health.

[Also: Want more from that EHR investment? Think, and operate, like a software vendor]

Reich added that hospitals also need to help EHR vendors develop the technologies and tools they need. Mount Sinai, for instance, has a number of projects underway to advance clinical decision support — though they are done outside Mount Sinai’s Epic EHR.

In one use case, Mount Sinai turned an Epic best practice alert into a more active feature that pushes the information out to VOIP badges nurses wear. Another project is the medical early warning system Mount Sinai developed to enhance the process of activating rapid-response teams for when a patient gets sepsis, for instance.

Mount Sinai is also piloting a more sensitive and specific tool for falls prevention that Reich said it hopes at some point to share its information with other around the country.

The final innovation Reich mentioned is an app that Mount Sinai created, and its physicians prescribe, to track patients discharged after heart failure service to try and reduce readmissions.

“It is incumbent on us to be very demanding customers,” Reich said. “It’s nice you made these multi-million dollar tools that capture data. Now we need to turn it into something useful that physicians accept and embrace.”

Carpenter added that near-ubiquitous EHR implementation was the first inning of healthcare’s digital transformation.

“We’re in the second inning now,” Carpenter said. “We still have a long way to go.” 

 

Twitter: SullyHIT
Email the writer: tom.sullivan@himssmedia.com


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