Fortune's Death by a Thousand Clicks: Part 1 of a Deep Dive

Fortune Magazine recently ran a longform piece titled “Death by a Thousand Clicks: Where Electronic Health Records Went Wrong,” which looked into the many issues in healthcare that persist in spite of, or in some cases because of, the focus on EHRs arising from the HITECH Act of 2009.

The Act has resulted in $36 billion of federal government expenditures earmarked for the digitization of medical records.  That type of money makes a big impact, as now a full 96% of hospitals are using EHRs compared to only 9% a decade ago.

The windfall for the health information technology space created perverse incentives for EHR companies to get their software into the hands of hospitals as quickly as possible.  This meant creating technology that met the standards the government laid out rapidly, rather than developing software with interoperability and usability in mind.

Overall costs of this digital revolution have certainly not been in line with expectations in a couple of ways.  One is that reports have warned that doctors may be using the new systems to intentionally miscode items to boost revenue.  The other is that despite standards for doctors and hospitals having meaningful use of these new systems (which are a point of contention in and of themselves, in some cases requiring administrative tasks with little to no added value), many are overstating their use of the technology to obtain taxpayer funds.

Another problem is actually overcommunication.  Anyone who is subscribed to a variety of email newsletters knows that they start to pile up quickly and that eventually, scrolling through these messages that you thought wanted to receive results in only a cursory glance at each subject line.  The same thing happens in hospitals, but with much more dire results.  ICU staff can see up to 7,000 alerts a day, and this ‘alert fatigue’ has related directly to incidents of patient harm, including death.  Other errors included physicians’ notes that were deleted without their or the EHR company’s knowledge, because they were put inside {} brackets.

These medical records errors are causing serious, and preventable, medical issues for patients.  Fortune outlines a variety of ailments including irreversible brain damage from a lab test that wasn’t sent, missed allergies, and even death from a brain aneurysm that were caused by faulty software.

Over the next three weeks, we’re going to take a look at several of the issues raised in the article and show where Extract’s software solution can help alleviate EHR headaches, allowing healthcare providers to be more efficient and effective.  We will specifically be looking at EHR errors, interoperability, and burnout/time issues.

Read Part 2 Here

Part 3

Part 4

About the Author: Chris Mack

Chris is a Marketing Manager at Extract with experience in product development, data analysis, and both traditional and digital marketing.  Chris received his bachelor’s degree in English from Bucknell University and has an MBA from the University of Notre Dame.  A passionate marketer, Chris strives to make complex ideas more accessible to those around him in a compelling way.