“Me, I’m at the bedside, focused like a laser beam. On the patient, naw come on, I’m treatin’ the computer screen.” – EHR State of Mind by ZDoggMD

What I love most about ZDoggMD is not his humorous videos and spot-on rap content, in which he delivers some serious poetic tropes and triple-syllable rhyming schemes. No—what I love most is that he invented a terrific way to deliver a medically-oriented message via an easily-accessible channel, to people who may never have heard this message before.

YouTube fans—all patients at some point in time—have probably never focused on issues like their doctor’s “technology,” but are now singing along and giggling to some deep medical information via ZDoggMD’s dope videos. They are not overwhelming, yet tackle serious topics.

If ZDoggMD can deliver this serious content in such an engaging way, can we imagine a world where our healthcare data is similarly delivered easily, via an accessible channel, in a way that is easily digestible? While we’re at that, let’s imagine that this data is easily and quickly available to someone important, like your doctor.

“I will remember that…warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.” And I will try to remember the awkward navigation path to my patient’s data and to mash that F2 key quickly. – Hippocratic Oath Plead

Many physicians started in their field out of an altruistic desire to help others, but are finding that the technology in front of them—supposedly to help—is often hindering their ability to deliver quality care, and ultimately forcing them to embrace an entirely unforeseen profession: The Technologist. As a doctor friend once said to me, “I think I’m becoming a techno-veterinarian since I’m spending so much time placing my medically trained hand on this darn computer mouse.” By the way, the mouse is doing well—click, click, click!

Psst…the computer screen is not the patient

With only 10-15 minutes spent with each patient, according to a 2014 article from Kaiser Health, physicians are more often sadly stuck “treating” the technology during a portion of that time—“Code blue…the screen just froze when I tried to run that gap report, call IT.” Health care providers are increasingly voicing a whole host of frustrations with these new technologies as captured by Let Doctors Be Doctors, the social movement supported by athenahealth that is providing a needed voice for these issues—e.g., EHRs cause providers to waste too much time in front of their computer screen, adding to an already overwhelming workload, contributing to physician burnout.

But aren’t computers and their data good for health care? Yes, they can be. The abundance of data captured and made available holds incredible promise, and this data will only continue to grow as we add other sources—“um, your iPhone just told me what you did last night.” The trick is to make this data easily accessible and actionable. So, with this growing landslide of data into a physician’s computer screen, how does one sift the meaningless from the value-add without being frustrated, confused and overwhelmed? Oh, and without ignoring the patient?

It’s not only the doctors noticing the residual effect of these poorly designed technologies. Studies are showing that patients often associate an increased use of technology in the exam room with negative perceptions of providers. So, the frustrating technology and avalanche of data that has physicians stressed out might also be causing patients to rate them lower on their Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) scores.

Enough! Quality care requires quality data

Ignore the technological frustrations for just a moment. Let’s face it, even 10-15 minutes per patient alone may not be sufficient to get a full picture of someone’s health. That’s where data, turned into actionable information, can help. Arcadia’s tool is designed to help consolidate and present massive amounts of data and facilitate complete patient care by combining information from sources like multiple EHRs and financial claims in a quick, digestible, easily accessible form. Currently, the tool has the ability to connect to more than 30 EHR types.

With tools such as Arcadia’s, physicians can now prepare, prior to a visit, a full view of a patient’s background and history. Data can help them make guideline-based recommendations, focus on the patient in the exam room and provide the best level of care right there, at the point of care.

No more techno-veterinarians spending time with their computer mouse while their patients listen to that healthy mouse “click, click, click.” No more mashing the F2 key. Let’s provide our physicians with technology that works, by providing the data they need, when needed, and then getting out of their way. This not only helps improve patient satisfaction, but also allows clinicians to stop being technologists and get back to the business of helping us all get better and stay healthy. Let’s help doctors be doctors.

Jon Cook, CTO of Arcadia.io

Jonathan Cook

As chief technology officer, Jon is responsible for guiding the company’s technological vision and leading the internal engineering and infrastructure teams.

A technology leader with more than 20 years of experience building, leading, and motivating teams, Jon is uniquely skilled in providing leadership over information technology, while addressing strategic business and clinical goals and opportunities. Prior to Arcadia, Jon served as deputy chief information officer for the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), where he provided leadership over information technology, served as an enterprise architect, and transformed legacy systems into a dynamic, scalable infrastructure. During his tenure at NCQA, Jon also developed the HEDIS data collection format and systems used by the top 300-400 health plans in the United States, which in turn covers more than 170 million lives. He was also apart of the team that developed NCQA’s first online accreditation system for health plans.

Jon received his Bachelor’s degree in English Writing from the University of Pittsburgh. He also received his Federal Chief Information Officer Certificate from Carnegie Mellon University/Federal CIO University in Arlington, Virginia.

February 23, 2016