Digital health is one of the fastest growing sectors. But it hasn’t always been that way. The passing of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) in 2009 brought historic investments into healthtech innovation, spawning the rollout of electronic health records (EHRs) to hospitals across the country.
But 14 years later, how do EHRs keep up with a rapidly changing healthcare landscape?
In this episode of the Memora Health Care Delivery Podcast, we speak with Todd Cozzens, managing partner with Transformation Capital, to explore the importance of the EHR and why digital healthcare is innovating beyond it.
The EHR was a digital health game-changer
Before EHRs, paper records were standard across the healthcare industry. Though the technology was first developed in 1972, the HITECH act — which injected stimulus funding into digital health innovation — spurred its widespread adoption.
“It laid the digital data foundation layer for the hospital … If pharma wanted to see how their drugs were doing [before EHRs], they’d take paper records off the shelves of hospitals and put them into computers … Everything was done on fax, sticky notes, and spreadsheets. So that changed the game. That was the genesis of the digital health boom,” Todd explains.
This revolution paved the way for digital health innovation to support organizations across the care continuum, from hospitals to payors.
EHRs serve an important role — but they create extra tasks for the healthcare workforce
Although EHRs are effective for securely inputting and maintaining health data, Todd suggests, they aren’t perfect. In fact, they can create more tasks for the healthcare workforce.
Todd remarks, “It does create a lot of work. Yes, the old paper flow sheets probably didn’t have all the data they needed to have. Now there’s almost too much data … What other industry has brought on a whole group of companies called ‘scribes’? … These are humans who walk around, following doctors, and input data because it’s so cumbersome for them to input data on their own. That just gives you an idea of the excess work that happens.”
With administrative burden contributing to the healthcare workforce crisis hospitals increasingly face, streamlining care team operations is a key priority for providers everywhere — and healthtech needs to evolve in tandem.
Digital health needs to address challenges for patients and care teams
Digital health advancements that automate tedious tasks, relieve care teams from administrative burdens, and fill in gaps for EHRs — such as intelligent care enablement — symbolize a new healthtech paradigm. And, Todd argues, innovations that put the episode of care at the center to improve experience for both patients and providers will win the future.
“I do believe there’s a whole wave of companies that are taking data, taking those workflows, and automating them to make them much easier. There’s an [EHR] 2.0 coming on,” Todd states. “Tools that focus on the episode of care — interacting with the patient and the doctor simultaneously — are some of the winners.”
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