Now Reading: What’s Ahead for EHRs: Experts weigh in – California Healthcare Foundation

Throughout my career, when I have seen a report about experts weighing in on anything in medicine, I have typically been leery, because I always seemed to be at odds with the conventional wisdom, especially around patient-centeredness (or lack thereof). This has been especially true for health information technology for me.

I remember being a pioneering member of the CCHIT workgroup on personal health records (yes, there was one), and being the odd person in the room who said, “EHRs are for patients.” Conventional wisdom at the time was “EHRs are for doctors. PHRs for patients.” We all know how separate but (in)equal tends to work out…just ask people in California or Washington State this week.

And actually thanks to the persistence of social media, I located my first blog post about this workgroup. I guess I wasn’t just a member, I was Co-Chair of said workgroup (See: Serving on the Personal Health Records Work Group – Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology, June 10, 2008). My opening post didn’t say much about this, but the comments say quite a bit about the concern of people at the time regarding this separation. I was concerned, too.

So now I’m quoted in an expert weighs in piece, and I’m a lot less leery, not because of me, but because of everyone else. Look at what these awesome experts are saying:

(Next generation of EHRs will offer) Greater emphasis on patient-centeredness to encourage patient engagement in care decisions and communication with providers.


“We’re now seeing more patient engagement than ever before,” (Indu) Subaiya said, noting that the meaningful use requirement for after-visit summaries for example, has already increased patient involvement beyond what was typical two years ago (prior to stage 1 implementation). Some of the experts suggested that more aspects of stage 1 should have been patient- centered, and that patients should play a bigger role in conversations concerning the components of meaningful use stages 2 and 3.

The above is particularly cool because I recall at the time that MU Stage 1 was first developed that people were worried it was TOO supportive of patient and family interaction. Next:

Many of the experts interviewed said they believe the future of health care should be rooted in patient-centeredness, and that EHR systems could go far
beyond the mandates of meaningful use in promoting patient-centeredness.

and one more:

Kaiser Permanente’s success demonstrates that future EHRs must go far beyond their roots in documentation and billing. The next generation of systems will not only advance
in the capture and integration of clinical data, but also represent a key point of engagement for providers or health coaches to help “activate” patients.

The above is not a quote from me, it’s a statement in the piece.

The report starts with a marker in time, the 1982 introduction of the compact disc. Well done, California Healthcare Foundation (and authors from Booz Allen Hamilton), in bringing the conventional wisdom forward ahead 30 years later, that EHRs are for patients, too.

Fire up your Fleetwood Mac collection and celebrate.

Oh, PS, California Healthcare Foundation now has a commenting system attached to their reports, feel free to post comments here of course, and/or  also where the report is published, to provide feedback on this piece.

Ted Eytan, MD