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NERD Center Report: Technology Pushing Change in the EHR World

by Holly Spring, Director of Communications

Xconomy’s Healthcare in Transition forum at Microsoft’s NERD (New England Research & Development) Center on Monday brought together health care and IT executives, rising entrepreneurs, researchers, data mavens and venture capitalists. They came to hear about how big data, mobile technology and personalized care will all move forward in 2013 to advance EHR systems and improve health care.

There were two main themes for an industry that will see more disruption in 2013:

Cloud Technology = Access and Transparency

athenahealth’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Todd Rothenhaus, joined a panel of health care IT executives on the benefits of the cloud in light of the recent presidential election outcome. The group talked about the lack of patient fiscal responsibility under current reimbursement models and the “monopolization” of health care by major organizations and government.

As Rothenhaus and other athenahealth leaders will tell you, this monopolization stymies the innovation that’s so desperately needed in health IT. Todd explained to the sold-out crowd how cloud technology enables patients and physicians—as consumers—to “shop” for their health care online. Being on the cloud also offers visibility into what works and what doesn’t.

Being a provider of cloud-based services, athenahealth has an “unfair advantage” here because our clients are already on the cloud. This means we can see accurate physician and practice performance as clients use our electronic health record, practice management and care coordination services. This kind of access and transparency—deep, real-time visibility into user workflows—is a clear benefit of our cloud-based EHR and other services because it allows us to coach and help improve our providers’ clinical and financial performance.

Design Finally Takes Center Stage in Health IT

During a panel on consumer health care, John Morey, founder of the online health community MyRozi, told the health care entrepreneurs in the room to keep design firmly in mind when building new solutions for consumers. This is an important recommendation as applied to patients but just as important when considering physicians as consumers.

At athenahealth, we leverage the power of our cloud-based network to track real-time usage of our solutions. This allows us to determine where design improvements are needed and where our workflows can be more user-friendly. Physicians are not expected to become computer experts during medical school, so technology must be intuitive to ensure its adoption and staying power in medical practices or hospital departments. The need for intuitive technology has been talked to death in the traditional B2B space but just now seems to be getting its due attention in the health IT sector.

We like to think that the rise of cloud-based services for EHRs have urged design improvements a lot faster and more easily than if traditional software vendors had remained unchallenged.

If you attended Monday’s #XCHealthIT event, what did you take away? Do you agree with my list of cloud benefits—access, transparency, design flexibility and usability—or am I missing a few? Please pile on in the comments.

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