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Healthcare IT adoption can be spurred by leveraging ‘Economics’ & ‘Design’

By Anurag Gupta | November 19, 2014 | 1 Comment

Economics & Design

A question often asked by the large health systems & providers is: Ok, so we have implemented that multi-million dollar Healthcare IT solution along with the ‘world class’ Electronic Health Record. Now the only thing that remains is to make sure that users use it!

Consistent adoption of health IT solutions has always been a major challenge for hospital administrators. The case in point is simple: if users don’t use the system, then no meaningful information can be derived, as there is no data. Healthcare has traditionally been awash with machine data (the Diagnostic data & all the ‘ologies data like radiology, cardiology etc) but capturing the prescription data (either entered by doctors themselves or nurses or transcription) has been a big headache for providers. Lots of management driven top down approach, central policies, guidance etc have usually been unsuccessful to propel usage. So what to do?

Two simple solutions can help: Using the basic principle of economics that is: aligning the right incentives and Simplifying the Process: aka Designing the process with the end user in mind

  • Economics hypothesises that people can be motivated to do the task by aligning the incentives (need not be physical or financial all the time) and applying behavioural economics. A case in point is the behavioural insight team in the UK, also known as the ‘Nudge’ unit. Making even small changes in simple day to day work can lead to dramatic improvement in results. One such example is major improvement in number of organ donors by making just small adjustments in the website.  Similarly, clinical users can be nudged to use EHR by just using simple & common sense improvements. For ex: A major hospital in America improved the adoption of electronic health records in the emergency room by creating a ‘mystique’ around the sheer benefits of the data crunched by the system and the benefit to the users (emergency doctors in this case, who needed most relevant data immediately).
  • The principle of good Design is slowly taking over many industries. It is one of the major contributors of user interfaces or user interaction. Ideo (a firm that has worked with several Apple products to improve user interface) is now involved in helping design medical equipment like glucometers to make them more user friendly (by thinking from the users perspective, not the sellers perspective). Healthcare is notorious for localised processes: you have the same standard procedure to withdraw money from a bank almost anywhere in the world; but a hospital’s ‘discharge process’ may vary a lot within the same group/city etc. This variation in processes ultimately leads to variation in care! And this is a big challenge when trying to automate the process and write software.  Thus, simplifying processes & making them more user-friendly will help all concerned: Patients, Physicians, Providers, Payers, and Governments. Not to mention the providers of technology.

What do you think?

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