One of my favourite sources of information on the health IT market is HISTalk, particularly their daily round-up of health IT news. In this morning’s summary, the editors cited Dr. Robert Pearl, CEO of the Permanente Medical Group, and his reasons why health IT is not “widely embraced”:
- Developers focus on doing something with a technology they like rather than trying to solve user problems, such as jumping on the wearables bandwagon despite a lack of evidence that they affect outcomes.
- Doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, and patients all feel that someone else should pay for technology they use.
- Poorly designed or implemented technology gets in the way of the physician-patient encounter.
- EHRs provide clinical value, but slow physicians down.
- Doctors don’t understand the healthcare consumerism movement and see technology as impersonal rather than empowering.
The editors also offered their own thoughts on this topic, citing the following impediments to health IT adoption:
- People embrace technology that helps them do what they want to do. Most healthcare technology helps users do things they hate doing, like recording pointless documentation and providing information that someone else thinks is important.
- Technologists assume every activity can be improved by the use of technology. Medicine is part science, part art, and technology doesn’t always have a positive influence on the “art” part.
- Healthcare IT people are not good at user interface design and vendors don’t challenge each other to make the user experience better. Insensitive vendors can be as patronizing to their physician users as insensitive physicians can be to their patients.
- Technology decisions are often made by non-clinicians who are more interested in system architecture (reliability, supportability, affordability, robustness, interoperability) than the user experience, especially when those users don’t really have a choice anyway.
- Hospital technology is built to enforce rules and impose authority rather than to allow exploration and individual choice. Every IT implementation is chartered with the intention of increasing corporate control and enforcing rules created by non-clinicians. That’s not exactly a formula for delighting users.
What are your thoughts? Do any of these reasons ring true for you? Would you challenge any of them as incorrect? Do you have any reasons of your own to add?