posted by adgrooms on April 30, 2019

In healthcare, making an administrative choice to use a piece of software in a clinical setting or not isn’t quite the same decision as making a choice to operate on someone or not. However, that software could affect the decision to operate on someone, and should not be discounted.

As with deciding on how to treat a patient, a variety of information and factors should be considered when looking for a software solution that is right for you.

What do you need? You probably generally know what solution you need….scheduling, reference, communication, document sharing, EHR. But what do you really want it to do? If your goal is to save time as an administrator, you probably want something that has a great desktop interface.

If your residents are going to interact with it on the run all of the time, you might want to take a long look at the performance on a mobile device. Perhaps you could take a survey of your front line users to really get a feel for what would best help them in their jobs. What are their concerns and priorities in the field?

You can rule out some candidates just by reviewing the features listed on their websites. They are likely to put the strengths of their product at the top of the main landing page. FAQ’s and use cases are usually good places to explore, if available, to get to the next level of finding your fit.

Most everyone offers a demo to show you the inner workings and finer details. If you gathered input from others on your team, get those questions answered, too. That may help you evaluate from all perspectives.

Don’t forget to get a good idea of how their support system works. Some are accessible immediately in a chat window on their site. Some require you to submit a support ticket and wait. Either way, good training and intuitive design should help you avoid having to rely on support at all.

Most importantly, ask around. Those who are in the trenches using the solutions can give you an honest picture of how each piece of software is going to affect your team.

posted by adgrooms on April 27, 2019

Last night I had a dream that I was at the hospital and they were short on doctors. It was a weird one with a couple random high school buddies I haven’t talked to in many years. One of my friends, who actually is a clinical psychologist in real life, threw me a white coat and said “It’s time for you to learn.” After a few minutes of being convinced that I can learn all of med school in a few weeks, I relented and accepted my fate to be an impromptu doctor.

Before anything exicting could happen, I woke up. But the crazy dream got me thinking...If I were a doctor, what would EHR software look like in my dream world? Or, thinking bigger, what would a comprehensive communication system look like with EHR rolled into it.

Ideally, a doctor should only have to deal with one device. Something small and portable, a tablet or a phone, should be able to perform all of the necessary functions. Zero typing required would make smaller devices very attractive. Massive workflow automation, data extrapolation, and a streamlined interface really would be a dream.

While mobile optimization is appealing, there surely are a few things that are better viewed and analyzed in more detail on a larger screen. High-quality imaging is a must! So a station for analysis is necessary, but wouldn't it be awesome if you could throw information from the mobile device to a desktop station based on proximity? Automatic authentication (log in by device recognition or device and biometrics, instead of typing) would make it even better!

All of the software should be integrated to work together seamlessly. Nobody is going to create an all-encompassing software system that maximizes everything. Some might have that ambition, but end up overreaching and creating a poorly developed product. If a few visionary organizations collaborate and create specialized, excellent software that can communicate and function seamlessly, we all benefit in the end.

Perhaps my becoming a doctor dream won’t come true, and that's probably good for everyone, but creating tools for doctors that they are excited to use is a reality that we are working (and dreaming) towards.

posted by adgrooms on April 26, 2019

Pagers, laptops, desktop computers, rolling mobile desktops, printed sheets, handwritten notes, flash cards…. It really boggles the mind how anything is kept straight in the massive constant flow of information and communication around a 770 bed hospital serving almost 30,000 inpatients per year between 550 physicians.

We had the opportunity to watch a residency program in action. From handoff and morning report to rounds, the EHR system was being used. The cutting edge of health records! However, it seemed more like an artifact from another generation of software. The interface was cluttered and required many clicks to get from one place to another. Perhaps this will evolve into a more streamlined layout.

What we would like to see: typeahead lookup, voice input, hotkeys, macros, de-cluttered interface, better use of data visualization, quick tagging/list building. Wouldn't it be cool if the doctors could "flag" and order the key records that they want to present?

The pressure is on for doctors to see as many patients as possible, communicate to various departments, and make sure all of this is logged in the EHR system. Many doctors are toting their own laptops, running from room to room, scribbling notes, and pausing to use fold down wall mount stands to catch up on their data entry. It almost seems as though doctors need their own personal scribe to take in data as they communicate with the patient (and of course actual and virtual scribe solutions are available - but what another possibility of miscommunication!).

The tough part of observing all of this is actually grabbing a busy doctor and asking them how they really feel about the EHR and why....Because they are too busy typing in the EHR!

posted by adgrooms on April 24, 2019

Not everyone has the opportunity to sit down with a client and really develop something useful for a whole team. Medicine is especially tough. The complexities of the inner workings of a medical program/ hospital/ practice partnership run deep through many layers of management and administration full of different personalities.

From one perspective, a solution may save countless hours and dollars, while another perspective sees only expense and overrun. The understanding of even the simplest functions of a piece of software may vary widely between role, organization, seniority, background, connections, and the list goes on...

Communicating solutions to a spectrum of people like this can be extremely difficult and highlights one of the difficulties of making systemic improvements in healthcare. Software marketing teams can aid the process by understanding the divide and speaking to everyone from the front lines all of the way to the top...left brain, right brain...millennials to boomers.

When everyone understands the benefit of a solution and how to take the best advantage of it, the people that may benefit most are the ones being treated.

posted by adgrooms on April 19, 2019

Conferences are a great way to get a feel for what technology is doing for healthcare. Although you are probably not going to see every HealthTech company in one conference, a wide array of sizes and approaches are represented. When you spend a few days in a convention center, you get to know one another.

The large, established companies pay for the high-visibility, front-and-center or corner slots, of course, because they can afford them. They seem to keep to themselves, for the most part, perhaps protective of their corner of their market. I guess I don’t blame them. New companies are sprouting up all of the time, some offering a similar service and looking for their own place in the world.

The smaller companies scattered around the rest of the convention floor generally had more specialized solutions. Some are physician entrepreneurs who saw a niche from their professional perspective and decided to take the leap and put their solution out to the public. Some, like our company, have aspirations to make a positive change from an outside perspective.

Whatever perspective it was, it seemed that we were all in the same boat together. All on the lookout to see who on the front lines of healthcare would take a chance on a less well-known company trying to make a positive impact. Meeting and talking to our neighbors gave me hope. There are a lot of good things being grown by smart people who care.