Post-EHR era: Bunk buzzword or here before long?

CIOs from Healthcare IT News' Best Hospital IT Departments 2016 share their take on the fate of electronic health records.
06:30 AM
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Electronic health records certainly enjoy their share of controversy and criticism. The software is hard for clinicians to use, the data therein more often than not is difficult to exchange with other systems and it appears there is little relief in sight. 

So it's not entirely surprising that even while EHRs are storming toward near-ubiquity among healthcare providers many forward-looking health IT professionals are already predicting the post-EHR era.

When Healthcare IT News interviewed CIOs whose teams won our Best Hospital IT Departments 2016 awards, we asked for their take on the future of EHRs.

"We're kind of over this whole meaningful use thing. Everybody can do it. There are enough EHRs now to satisfy the need. We've got to look beyond that," said Keith Neumann, CIO at Roper St. Francis. (#5 Large Hospital)

Neumann said that even as Roper St. Francis is undertaking a rip-and-replace enteprise transition from McKesson to Cerner. He added that the health system is looking at how to use the millions of data points it has and digest such information for decisionmaking purposes.

Inspira Health is making similar moves and looking to pull data from disparate sources, including bots and social media, into its EHR, thereby shifting the focus away from the electronic medical record as a clinical tool, CIO Tom Pacek said. (#4 Large hospital)

"The EHR is going to become just another transaction system," Pacek said. "But the analytics will tell us more and more about patients."

Lucile Packard Children's CIO Ed Kopetsky is adding barcoding, computerized physician order entry and ramping up its focus on patient safety with the EHR. (#3 Super hospital)

Kopetsky is less convinced, however, that a post-EHR era is nigh. Instead, he said EHRs will keep evolving with better user interfaces, clinical processes and integration between various systems.

"But as for end of the road for EHR? It better not be or it will have failed. We have had a negative impact on physician productivity of at least 10 percent," Kopetsky added. "We shifted work and we're doing work by physicians that wasn't done before. We have not solved that problem industry-wide."

Chris Hickie, the IT director at Mahaksa Health Partnership, added that the meaningful use incentive program has proven its value in driving EHR adoption and offered a suggestion for moving the software programs forward — whether the future holds a post-EHR era or otherwise. (#2 Small hospital)

"We don't give EHR vendors enough time and resources to truly innovate," said Hickie. "If all we do as a nation is regulate, regulate, regulate we don't give these companies enough time to truly innovate. Perhaps some flexibility could allow these vendors to bring more innovation."


Healthcare IT News' Best Hospital IT Departments 2016: 
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⇒ CIOs reveal what makes an IT shop great 
⇒Interactive map: Best Hospital IT Departments 
See the people who make their IT departments winners