Don’t Hijack Physician Workflow

During my time off I have been meeting with folks to see what is new in the healthcare IT space. I got a quick demo of a product called IllumiCare. Their mission is to provide cost information to physicians so they can make informed, cost-effective decisions about plans of care and hospital orders.

To be clear, this is not an IllumiCare endorsement and IllumiCare did not ask me to post this. I just saw a demo. But, their offering is based on 2 principles that I completely agree with. I believe these should be guiding principles for all of us in healthcare IT:

1. Embed everything in the EHR

Illumicare’s information is presented as embedded panes in EHRs such as Cerner or Epic. Illumicare believes (and I agree) that having separate systems kills adoption. Physicians live in the EHR. They don’t want to login to separate systems; re-query their patients; nor deal with different user interfaces. Even if you have single sign-on and patient context management, there is significant inertia that keeps physicians from logging into other systems.

2. Don’t hijack the physician workflow

Our attempts to build alerts into the physician online ordering workflow have been failures. Because these alerts are seldom relevant to the task at hand physicians clear these alerts before they are even observed. It is time to STOP using alerts except in the most critical safety situations.

Instead Illumicare presents cost information on review screens. The idea is that information is imparted when the physician is most open to receiving the information. Over time physicians come to understand the cost impacts of their behavior and modify that behavior over time.

Still Candid

This is a personal update.

For the last 16 years I have been the CIO at Affinity Health System and Ministry Health Care. That run comes to an end this month.

So, now I am going to take several weeks off. Initially I had grand ideas: backpack across Europe, bicycle across the US, or through hike the Appalachian Trail. But, after consultation with my wife, Pam, I have more grounded plans:

  1. Spend more time on my numerous community activities in downtown Appleton.
  2. Spend time reading about healthcare IT; blog; and network with interesting people in my field with whom I had lost contact (connect with me on LinkedIn and we can catch up).
  3. I have also been given a list of things to fix around the house.

When summer comes I will get serious about deciding what I will do next. While I love being a CIO, I also love living near my adult daughters: Amy (Chicago) and Mary (Appleton). So, I may be returning to my consulting roots and hitting the road. Either way, I am eager to share what I have learned in 22 years as a CIO.

Transitions are a time full of different emotions. I have been through them all. At this point I am mostly feeling satisfied with what I have accomplished and excited about starting a new life chapter.

The best thing about leaving an organization is the number of kind notes that you receive and how much insight others have about your strengths and contributions. I cherish the many emails and notes I have received.

For the last couple of years I have been transitioning our IT division to Ascension Information Systems (AIS). A move that is the natural outcome of Ministry’s acquisition by Ascension, the nation’s largest non-profit hospital chain. That transition is complete and the team I was privileged to lead is now following an exciting national strategy set by Ascension’s excellent CIO, Gerry Lewis. Those IT employees are in good hands and I thank AIS for taking such good care of those people and me.

More to come…