Readers Write: How Many Licks to the Tootsie Pop Center Versus How Many Clicks to Relevant Clinical Data?
How Many Licks to the Tootsie Pop Center Versus How Many Clicks to Relevant Clinical Data?
By Helen Figge, PharmD, MBA, CPHIMS, FHIMSS
A group of engineering students once reported that it took an average of about 364 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. For some reason, this was a very important scientific query that needed an answer.
A current healthcare query many are pondering today is: how many clicks are needed to get to the relevant clinical data necessary to support patient care? Clinicians using the various technologies like EHRs and HIEs for data retrieval often times have the same number of steps as getting to the center of a Tootsie Pop. The more clicks it takes to get to the required clinical data, the more time spent away from the patient, and thus eventual loss of productivity, suboptimal patient care, and potentially total clinician frustration. If you speak to clinicians on the front line, many of the technologies are more of a hindrance than a help.
In reality, one wants the right data at the right time and in a comprehensible format without undue effort to retrieve it. Clinicians are yearning for “smart software” that knows what data to fetch and how to properly present it. Data needs to be automatically populated inside the clinician note. Additionally, more than ever clinicians need technology that supports workflow and provides the correct data with minimal effort on the clinician’s part.
Bottom line, we need “smart software” that knows what data to present while simultaneously having other data immediately available with one click. As an example, if the software recognizes that the patient has diabetes, then certain labs — such as hemoglobin A1C, lipids, and renal function — should be automatically displayed in the note.
Ask clinicians and they will tell you that they are getting drowned in unnecessary data. Data needs to be presented in a way that is easily understood by clinicians. We know a lot about the technologies out there today compared to a few years ago, so clinicians more than ever should expect nothing less from their vendors today than data that is useful, timely, and in real-time.
Clinicians require from their technology enablers the ability to aggregate data from multiple sources and present it in a comprehensible format. For a diabetic patient, the software needs to aggregate kidney function from any laboratory source and plot and trend the data appropriately. Clinicians need to be more vocal in their desires for appropriate data and need to collaborate with the IT departments to get the desired outcomes from their technologies. Clinicians need to engage more than ever before to ensure the software chosen for their organizations delivers what is needed on the front lines.
Right now, clinicians need easily customizable data presentation formats, smart order templates and true data aggregators along with evidence-based algorithms from their vendors. Clinicians must have tools that actually work for them, not against them, and truly support patient care. True “smart software” should support what the clinician needs, not forcing the clinician to adapt to inept software to attempt data retrieval for patient care. IT experts need to continue engaging the clinician in collaborations because right now it’s all about the data and how it is presented.
Organized structured data is the paramount piece to the current healthcare puzzle. We have the answer to how many licks to the center of a Tootsie Pop. Now it’s time to get to the answer of how many clicks to the necessary data that truly supports patient care.
Helen Figge, PharmD, MBA, CPHIMS, FHIMSS is advisor, clinical operations and strategies, for VRAI Transformation.