Now Reading: Health information technology: fallacies and sober realities ( so why not involve patients )

Health information technology: fallacies and sober realities.jpg

Karsh, B.-T., M. B. Weinger, P. A. Abbott, and R. L. Wears. “Health information technology: fallacies and sober realities.”

Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association 17, no. 6 (October 2010): 617-623.

I think this is a neat paper, and I say “neat” because it provides fertile ground for much conversation around health information technology – are we doing it right? Are vendors and designers really designing the way they should be? Are we paying attention/do we care about the outcomes?

The paper’s fallicies have been discussed in reviews from different perspectives (Health Care Renewal and HIStalk), so I won’t re-cover them (well okay, I will agree with, “don’t knock paper, it serves a purpose”).

Instead, I want to highlight this quote, mentioned as Grudin’s law:

When those who benefit from a technology are not those who do the work, then the technology is likely to fail or be subverted.

…and this quote, with my emphasis in bold

Specifically, success … will require greater emphasis on providing cognitive support for health care providers and for patients and family caregivers.

I don’t often see literature about Electronic Health Records that speaks of their need to facilitate the thinking of patients and family caregivers, and I like that and I like Grudin’s law.

The authors recognize that

  • patients are key beneficiaries and sufferers of well designed/poorly designed health information technology, and
  • I know and the patients know that they are doing most of the work of being healthy,

So, let’s recognize this and engage patients and families in

  • seeing the information,
  • using the information, and even more,
  • in designing the systems using human-centered design principles / design thinking.

The cognitive support of patients and families in being well is as important as the cognitive support of their care providers, I like that as a goal for health information technology.

1 Comment

Ted Eytan, MD