In 2018, a Stanford Medicine/Harris Poll found that nearly half of U.S. primary care physicians said that electronic health records actually detract from their effectiveness as clinicians, and 44% said they believed that the primary value of these systems is data storage. Far from being a transformative health care tool to support clinical decision-making, a large portion of physicians feel they have traded physical filing cabinets for digital ones.
Electronic health records still have the potential to make health care more predictive, preventive, and precise — but only if we can achieve sustained collaboration among health care providers, technology companies, and health insurers to address their shortcomings. One step in that direction took place on Stanford’s campus last June, where we convened leaders in patient care, technology, design thinking, and policy to discuss a path forward for electronic health records.
Issues of interoperability and user interface optimization have been successfully addressed in industries as complex as aviation, telecommunications, and banking. You can easily withdraw money from any ATM in the world because the industry came together to design secure systems that would talk to each other to satisfy consumer demand. These examples provide valuable lessons and hold out hope that the health care sector will achieve its long-awaited transformation.