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20th century medicine in a 21st century world
by 
Tashfeen Suleman and Eric Klein
August 21, 2016

The healthcare system in the US is one of the most advanced in the world.

However, healthcare professionals are over burdened with an aging and increasingly sick patient population and a hodgepodge of health IT systems. The utopian goal for these systems was to help alleviate this burden and make healthcare providers more efficient. However, that is not the case. In fact it is further adding work to the already overextended healthcare provider.

In the post EHR deployment world, clinicians have become glorified data entry staff struggling with the nuances of lengthy documentation, multiple forms and templates. According to a survey1 , a patient's average face to face time with their physician is only 20 minutes in an encounter that runs 121 minutes (the other 84 minutes is spent either waiting, interacting with nonphysician staff or completing paperwork or billing). Therefore it feels like we are practicing 20th century medicine in a 21st century world. We should be using the best and most clinical advanced actionable technologies that allow us to automate most of this and allow physicians to do what they were trained to do, be physicians.

The introduction and continuous update of EHRs has been both a boon and a bane for healthcare professionals. A boon because we now have a huge opportunity to document health electronically and therefore, link observable clinical patterns with up to the minute research and insights on the population at large. A bane because data entry comes at the cost of patients not getting critical face time with their doctors. Instead, this encounter becomes documentation driven rather than patient centered. These collective workloads combined with perverse productivity can result in unnecessarily tragic outcomes or a high cost intervention when a well-timed, low cost treatment would have sufficed. Unfortunately, the patient has the most to lose in either scenario. That is why we must change the entire model around the EHR and make it a conduit for empowerment, not burnout.

Given the current state of health information storage, exchange and analysis, we see big data in healthcare playing a vital role in the future of healthcare delivery, in the form of precision and predictive tools that can help alleviate this pain point. This is exactly where companies like CloudMedx come in, to instill more confidence and precision in the clinical workflow so that every encounter is not a novel case study or trial and error process. Clinical analytics tools that are more focused on predictive analytics will allow doctors to see key trends in large patient populations that can be applied to individual patients, thereby allowing doctors to make informed decisions at the point of care and not be flooded with information that is not insightful or non-useful.

Imagine if the risks for certain adverse events in an individual patient could be predicted well in advance, just as most of these diseases don't spring overnight but build up over long periods of times and leave bread crumbs in the form of clinical history. These patterns are hard to spot in one-off doctor visits but over time, and especially when used in reference to a large population set, provides easy to spot empirical evidence for individual level assessments. This predictive analytics when coupled with precision delivery can be used to off-set the risk by taking certain precautions in the form of custom tailored care plans that outline medications, lifestyle changes, and follow up visits, and can be easily introduced by an intervening doctor. This leads to healthier outcomes for the patient and reduced workload for the providers and health systems.

The good news is that there are a few companies leading the pack in big data and machine assisted data driven medicine. They utilize their large computing power to sift through large deposits of structured and unstructured data from huge population sets, and derive insights that can be applied to individuals as well providing a cross sectional and multi-faceted analysis. Specifically, taking the mess that is the EHR and other healthcare data sources and identifying patterns that are useful and actionable - right at the point of care. Clinical AI platform companies like CloudMedx are helping physicians' spot early risk and rising risk patients so that they can intervene and off-set such risks through precision guided healthcare delivery. These companies are doing their part to improve patient outcomes, reduce fatigue and improve the system as a whole. Over time, we hope that our healthcare system can be brought into the 21st century, with all the promise that it holds, thereby not only reducing physician fatigue and burn out but optimizing each clinical encounter for the benefit of the patient – with an improved clinical and financial outcome.

http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/healthcare-information-technology/20th-century-medicine-in-a-21st-century-world.html