IG Summit Speaker Issues Disruptive Technology Wakeup

Chris Surdak, JD, speaks at IG SummitWith health information flowing from so many different sources and devices—electronic health records (EHRs), personal health records (PHRs), smart phone apps, telehealth monitors, and digital skin tattoos (coming soon to a provider near you)—governance of that information is key to the industry’s survival. Health information management (HIM) professionals are best equipped for this task as disruptive technologies take aim at healthcare, Chris Surdak, JD, said during his keynote presentation at AHIMA’s Information Governance Thought Leadership Summit in Chicago on Thursday.

Surdak, who describes himself as a “technology evangelist,” is a former rocket scientist who once worked on the Mars rover, earned his law degree two years ago, and now works as a consultant on information governance (IG), privacy policy, social media, and e-discovery. In his presentation, “Information Governance and the Future of Healthcare,” Surdak enumerated the ways in which Big Data will play an increasingly important role in healthcare, and underscored just how much smartphones are accelerating the consumerization and gamification of healthcare.

“The smartphone is not a phone, it’s a tracking device we occasionally make calls on,” Surdak said, noting that smartphone apps and capabilities have pushed consumers to expect services to be rendered immediately and perfectly.

For example, Surdak described an app that puts doctor’s office appointment cancellations up for auction. So, if a patient has to wait six months for an appointment with a specialist, the auction app allows a patient to bid on someone else’s appointment in the event of a cancellation, making their new wait time one day.

Reality Check for Healthcare

But Surdak also says that the healthcare industry has a habit of thinking that they don’t need to cater to consumers in this way because of the mistaken belief that “healthcare’s different.”

The top five “We’re Different, We’re Healthcare” myths, according to Surdak, are:

  1. We’re so regulated. Innovators are breaking the rules in a lot of different industries with huge success, even though their services have been banned or deemed illegal in some jurisdictions, such as online gambling (Draft Kings, FanDuel) or the car sharing service Uber. This shouldn’t prevent organizations from testing the limits.
  2. Lives are at stake. Surdak argues that lives are at stake in air travel too, but airlines keep trying new ways of doing things and making travel more user-friendly.
  3. Quality is so important. Surdak explained that his wife, as an occupational therapist, is all too aware of patient safety and quality guidelines, but is often frustrated by the fact that some computer systems don’t allow her to input all the necessary patient info. One of the EHRs she uses only allows her to list two serious health issues per person, even though an individual may have more than two serious issues.
  4. Doctors are not our customers. Too often health IT systems cater to physician preferences, which serves the physician but not the customer—which is the patient.
  5. Life sciences can’t and won’t change. To this, Surdak says, “The notion that healthcare isn’t going to change—we gotta let go of that. Healthcare is going to be the most impacted by big data. That’s what I say every time because healthcare has so far to go. Healthcare is ripe for this stuff.”

Click here for more on Surdak’s thoughts on IG, HIPAA, and the consumerization of healthcare.

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