Is digital health headed towards a similar fate to legacy EHR systems?
Today, one of the most common responses by health systems’ personnel, when presented with a novel software (SW) solution, is: “I cannot take on another tool and work with an additional interface”. This response represents one of the major challenges brought about by legacy Electronic Health Records (EHR) infrastructure. EHR systems were innovative back in the 60’s when almost no-one had a computer to run them on and even in the 90’s when wide-spread adoption of these systems became a reality.
EHR systems are sometimes built of, over a dozen different integrated SW tools, inaccurately connected to each other.
This state is a result of a lack of continued innovation, disruption or even user focused development addressing, continuously changing users’ (MDs, RNs, administrators) needs; common shifts in circumstances, work protocols, IT are often not considered in these products’ lifespan, all of which generated service and usability gaps.
The aforementioned gaps created an opportunity for additional companies to develop and commercialize supportive SW tools that complement EHR systems, or at times replace outdated features. Amongst these tools are: Picture Archive and Communication System (PACS), Customers Relations Management (CRM), billing systems, Laboratory interface.
Not long ago, the cycle restarted, the latest supportive SW tools became outdated and the need to update the systems sub-serving the health services re-emerged.
As a result, the same opportunity appeared once again. However, this time in the age of startup companies, meaning that for each unanswered need instead of solely two new companies, as occurred during the previous cycle, two hundred start up endeavors were established.
Indeed, many rose and are still rising to the challenge, utilizing advanced technologies to answer current users’ needs. So much so that users find themselves overwhelmed by the proliferation of non-integrated or partially-integrated solutions required for day to day routine work, enhancing providers’ screen and keyboard fatigue.
Although this process represents a perfect economy where unanswered needs allow for competition and organic advancement, we might be witnessing history repeating itself. Many digital health companies are ignoring users’ long-term circumstances and practical holistic needs as well as neglecting interoperability. However, this time, users also entail patients and not just medical professionals.
How can we, as entrepreneurs, leaders, providers, thought-provokers affect this course? How can we divert focus to sustainable solutions in order to break the cycle?
What are the crucial points you see for making this change happen?
Written by Yehonatan Tirosh
Mr. Tirosh holds over 15 years of experience in entrepreneurship and strategic consultancy. Well versed in leading startup companies. Extensive background in life sciences. Founder of Fortail Life Sciences, consultancy firm; M.I. Medical Incentive & D-MAAD, diagnostic medical device start-ups. Holds a B.A. summa cum laude from the Haifa University in Economics and Statistics.