About 6 years ago Dow Chemical sponsored what became a series of iconic TV commercials – simply called The Human Element. They still crop up occasionally - and I still think they are CLIO worthy – but no wins to date. A summary of the soothing, violin accompanied voice-over went like this:
For each of us there is a moment of discovery. In the flash of a synapse we learn that life is elemental. This knowledge changes everything. We see all things connected. The element not listed on the chart – is the missing element – the human element. And when we add it to the equation – the chemistry changes. Every reaction is different. The human element is the element of change. Nothing is more fundamental. Nothing more elemental.
In the course of those same 6 years we’ve raced breathlessly – sometimes frantically – to bring the promise of new technology to healthcare. E-Health, M-Health, D-Health – all with varying degrees of success but all with the same triple aim – improved care, health and cost.
Xerox has new evidence to suggest that there are still some sizable gaps in at least one critical element of our healthcare transformation – and it’s that human element. A recent survey of 2,147 U.S. adults, conducted for Xerox by Harris Interactive found that only 26% want electronic health records (EHR’s). Even beyond that surprise, only 40% of respondents believe that EHR’s will deliver better, more efficient care – and that’s down 2% from last year’s survey. About 85% also said they have privacy concerns about EHR systems generally. Those concerns aren’t unfounded. Today’s headline over at ModernHealthcare reports that over the last 3 years there were over 470 healthcare data breaches that involved the medical records of over 20 million people.
Much of that human element relates to a variety of customer experiences around all the different dialog’s in healthcare (physician to hospital, hospital to payer, patient to doctor etc…). In this context, consumers are really all of us – regardless of any healthcare affiliation. Fundamentally changing these experiences isn’t as simple as slathering on a glitzy web design – or racing full throttle to the cloud and mobile. Recent headlines certainly aren’t conclusive – but they do suggest ample room for innovation and improvement – especially around that human element:
- A Physician Has Difficulty Selecting A Primary Care Doctor
- Badly Designed Electronic Medical Records Can Kill You
- Why EMR Is A Dirty Word To Many Doctors
Even with the big Enterprise IT decisions – headlines here often reflect areas of both significant risk and doubt:
- Cloud’s Thorniest Question – Does It Pay Off?
- Healthcare: Most Breached Industry In 2011
- Hospitals Struggle With BYOD, Want Clarity From Federal Regulators
In an effort to help providers to maximize the value of an EHR, Xerox turned to researchers at the venerable Palo Alto Research Center (PARC – a company that Xerox spun-off about 10 years ago) as a way to explore the landscape of innovation around EHR’s.
A big part of PARC’s healthcare work for Xerox is using ethnography and other social science methods to observe and analyze actual work practices – not just what people say they do – said Steve Hoover, CEO, PARC. If there’s one thing that this survey tells us, coupled with our own experiences, it’s that you should never develop or deploy technology outside of the human context.
PARC’s rich history in engineering innovation is legendary – spanning more than 40 years – and includes such key developments as laser printing, Ethernet, the modern personal computer, graphical user interface (GUI), object-oriented programming, ubiquitous computing, amorphous silicon (a-Si) applications, and advancing very-large-scale-integration (VLSI) for semiconductors.
Relative to healthcare, Xerox acquired ACS almost 3 years ago – which in turn acquired The Breakaway Group last fall (in part for their PromisePoint® technology – a kind of flight-simulator for large-scale EHR deployments). Last year, ACS signed a $500 million, 10-year agreement with Allscripts for hosted IT Services using Allscripts’ Sunrise Enterprise Suite to support EHR’s. These large scale connections (Xerox, ACS, Allscripts) combined with the innovation engines of companies like PARC and The Breakaway Group represent an exciting development. It’s where innovation – including the human element – meets scale – in healthcare. PARC’s influence is still relatively early – and most clearly represents the opportunity around that human element. Steve Hoover summarized it best:
PARC helped to usher in the era of ubiquitous computing – but in the evolution to truly personalized computing we recognized the critical importance of contextual computing. Bringing that deep understanding to large industries like healthcare is both a rich heritage – and an exciting opportunity. It’s also one we’re extremely passionate about.
Love this piece by @DanMunro on the missing "element" (love the graphic with an Atomic number of 8 - same as Oxygen and an Atomic weight of 7E-09)
As Dan points out this si the key ingredient that is missing in so much of the dicussion and includes everything from the dialog with the physician/hospital/payer) to the interaction with the EMR and the engagement with the Xerox Spin off PARC that has been exploring the EHR interaction for ten years.
Interesting concept to have a flight simulator version of EMR's which was exactly the process we went through about 20 years ago when we designed our paperless hospital in Glasgow. We built mock up rooms and tested them in earnest with real physicians, nurses and other ancillary staff to work out the workflow kinks in the room's ergonomics.
We need more of this and perhaps even an independent testing environment that takes the CCHIT testing and certification methodology a stage further.