“Compared to any other software, they’re behind,” he said. “They’re not going to get better unless some people step up and try to make them better, especially from a physician perspective.”
Gaurav Chaturvedi, MD, head of the hospitalist team at Northwestern Lake Forest (Ill.) Hospital and chair of SHM’s IT Quality Subcommittee, said part of the problem is that vendors have a captive audience. Hospitals are motivated to take advantage of health IT incentive payments, which were funded under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Because healthcare reform is pushing the industry to digitize medical records, IT firms have built-in customers. That, Dr. Chaturvedi said, has stifled competition and hampered innovations tailored to doctors’ needs.
Hospitalists must work together to discuss end-user issues and prompt improvement, he added. To that end, SHM technology committees are working on white papers that will recommend best practices related to health information technology. While the papers are still in the planning and polishing phase, the idea is to view the overall landscape to give HM group leaders a framework of what they should be focused on.
“We want to keep vendor-neutral,” Dr. Chaturvedi said. “We all have the same types of issues to work with. We should work it out together.”
Dr. Rogers noted that SHM has met proactively with vendors to provide input on potential improvements, but that the process is ongoing and will likely take years.
“The best is still pretty bad out there,” he added.
Meanwhile, he urged hospitalists to share concerns, complaints, and success stories via HMX, an online portal hospitalists can use to communicate their views on a variety of topics, post responses, and share files. The online community—launched three years ago but rebranded under its current name in 2012—can be a repository for advice, ideas, or commiseration but is useful only if it is adopted. If more hospitalists log into the system and begin to use it, participation will breed greater value and vice versa, he added.
“We’re still in the build-up phase,” Dr. Rogers said. “We want to get people in all discussion forums to a tipping point.”