Now That Clinicians Get the Vision, Can They Get Moving?

By M.L. Baker  |  Posted 2005-05-20
SALT LAKE CITY—"The products have increased, but the fundamental issues are the same." Thats how Richard Ward, CEO of Reward Health Sciences, Inc. summed up this years Toward an Electronic Patient Record conference.

When he last attended the conference in 2001, Ward made a list of what he considered the fundamentals and unchallenged assumptions of health IT at that time.

Since then, wireless has indeed emerged as an enabling technology, but the perceived need for handheld devices has decreased.

Other beliefs, like standards being a barrier to widespread adoption and the sense that technology should change doctors routines as little as possible, still seem to hold.

As for the content of this years conference, Ward said he felt there was still too much emphasis on a limited view of IT as a "paperless, fingertip access to information," but that he was heartened that broader topics were included in sessions and some keynote speeches.

"Workflow automation technology is of great importance. And for the first time, there was an actual track about the topic." Still, he said, "very little was on point."

A few people said that the health care community had reached a broad consensus on the use of health IT: that the cheerleading was starting to wane and that the time of real, nitty-gritty work is waxing.

The conference themes support this notion. This years was "The EHR Era Has Begun: Is Your Organization Ready?" Last years: "2004 is the Year of the Electronic Health Record."

People also repeated their impatience with a surfeit of standards and the poor penetration of health IT.

"Sometimes, it doesnt matter if its a standard is perfect. Just give me one," said one panelist.

"My grocery store knows more about my purchases[than my doctor does]," said one attendee, who added that he was eager to start using the data to improve public health.

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