HIM Must Partner with Physicians for Documentation Innovation

Health information management professionals must be “disruptively innovative” to help their healthcare partners succeed, a top government health IT official said Monday morning at AHIMA’s Health Information Integrity Summit.

During his “Innovations in Clinical Documentation” presentation, Jacob Reider, MD, chief medical officer for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, said his job developing health IT standards for initiatives such as the “meaningful use” EHR Incentive Program is not unlike his previous roles as a family physician and a parent. Reider likened the process of implementing electronic health records (EHRs) to teaching children how to sail, or helping family practice patients quit smoking.

“You see kids go from being scared to confident to autonomous. When you sail, you tack back and forth. It’s the path, the experience that we love and make the best of what we’re doing,” Reider said. “We’re not angry that it takes 17 years to implement EHRs. If we can witness that path, that’s the path that will get them to success.”

In a lighthearted moment, Reider noted that the meaningful use program is still in stage 1, though Congress often seems to forget this. He also added, perhaps in a nod to stakeholder calls that stage 2 or stage 3 of the program be delayed or extended, that when stage 3 happens it will indeed be after stage 2, earning hearty chuckles from the summit’s keynote address attendees.

Reider encouraged HIM professionals to work with the “crazy nutcases like me,” or the doctors in their facilities who are always bugging them to do something new or something different with medical records. He explained that in the rush to digitize health records, too many providers are trying to replicate the paper record electronically, and that lack of innovation is slowing progress.

“Work with your doctors. You’re shortstop and they’re second base, where we are now is not working,” Reider said.

To be truly innovative, developers have to be disruptive and anticipate a user’s needs before the user even knows they need it, Reider said. Reider used the example of the carmaker Honda, who marketed the Civic to people who were not buying cars. The original Civics didn’t have cup holders, or backseats, and were very different from American cars. But, eventually, they changed the US automobile industry because Honda innovated faster and beat the incumbents.

The same is true with health IT and EHR vendors, Reider said. “When disruptive innovation gets a little bit better and a little bit better, it will eclipse capability of the incumbent market,” Reider said.



Follow the Journal‘s coverage for news and insights from AHIMA’s Health Information Integrity Summit taking place September 16-17 in Alexandria, VA. To explore more, click here.


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