Teenagers are awkward … and so is the current state of healthcare as it graduates from its elementary days of EHR implementation and moves to a state of optimization and the forthcoming adult world of artificial intelligence and other widely publicized transformative innovations.

Drawing on this vivid analogy, Mitchell Josephson of Health Data Management, and Joshua Reischer, MD, CEO and founder of Health Note, sat down to discuss this current state of healthcare technology and its “awkward teenage years” — a period marked by rapid development and frequent missteps, but also tremendous potential for growth and maturation.

The awkward stage of technology

Reischer’s metaphor of healthcare’s digital transformation being in its teenage years captures the essence of the current state of the industry. Like teenagers, healthcare technology is full of promise but also fraught with challenges and inconsistencies.

“It’s on its way to success,” he explained, “but it’s not quite there yet.” Marked by advancements in integration and user experience, it’s still catching up to the vision of seamless, efficient care delivery.

Personal experience: A microcosm of issues

To illustrate the current state of healthcare technology, Reischer shared a personal experience that resonates with many patients and providers. During a visit to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) clinic, he encountered a series of redundant and disjointed processes that exemplify the “teenage” awkwardness of healthcare technology. Despite completing pre-visit forms online, he was required to fill out the same information on a tablet upon arrival and then again through an app at the clinic. Even after all this, the physician had no access to the pre-submitted data, requiring Reischer to repeat his information and manually provide a sleep study report he had already uploaded.

This experience isn’t uncommon; rather it seems to be more the norm as current integration of technology in healthcare often leads to inefficiencies and frustrations rather than streamlined care. The repetitive nature of data entry and the lack of seamless integration between systems highlight the need for better workflow integration and user-centric design.

The importance of integration and workflow

One of the key takeaways from Reischer’s insights is the importance of integrating technology into existing workflows effectively. He emphasized that merely integrating new technologies with legacy systems is insufficient. Instead, these technologies must be thoughtfully woven into the everyday operations of healthcare providers. This involves understanding the upstream and downstream effects of new technologies on different stakeholders, from front desk staff to medical assistants and physicians.