Ever since 2007, we have been striving as a healthcare community to achieve the Triple, now Quadruple, Aim of Healthcare. There have been many barriers to this goal, and at times it seemed radical and impossible. But it is possible. Using third-party applications in electronic health records, we can move closer to the Quadruple Aim and a better, more holistic healthcare environment.
Defining the Quadruple Aim
The Quadruple Aim of Healthcare includes 4 points:
- Enhancing the patient experience of care
- Improving population health
- Reducing healthcare costs
- Improving the work-life balance of physicians.
Originally, we only had the Triple Aim of Healthcare. Improving the work-life balance of physicians became a goal when physician burnout began to rise at alarming rates. Now we have our Quadruple Aim. These are the four aims of healthcare, and innovation in healthcare technology should strive to achieve these aims.
Barriers to the Quadruple Aim
Currently, many things stand in the way of achieving the Quadruple Aim. There are innovations meant to further us along towards these goals that actually detract from our progress. Many believe that Electronic Health Records prevent us from achieving the Quadruple Aim, particularly in regards to enhancing the patient care experience and improving the work-life balance of physicians.
There are several reasons that EHRs today are a barrier to the Quadruple Aim. First of all, they were not designed with the Quadruple Aim at the forefront. Instead, they were quickly shoved into the market and integrated in order to gain government incentives.
The design of EHRs makes it difficult for doctors to find the data that they need for a patient exam. This leads to many doctors clicking through tabs and staring at a screen while in front of their patients. This screen between physicians and patients prevents eye contact and connection. Physicians are busy trying to find what they need in the limited time they have, but patients are left feeling disconnected. This prevents the trust-bond relationship that is so important. For this reason, EHRs are hindering the goal of enhancing the patient care experience.
The second reason EHRs prevent the Quadruple Aim of Healthcare is that they are actually contributing to physician burnout. This is directly against the fourth aim, to improve the work-life balance of physicians. In a survey of 585 physicians, 37% experienced some form of burnout, and of those who experienced burnout, 75% attributed it to the EHR. 53% of respondents felt dissatisfied with their work-life balance, and 85% of those respondents attributed their dissatisfaction with work-life balance to their EHR.
The irony is that EHRs were meant to further the Quadruple Aim of Healthcare. The goal was to improve the patient’s experience of care by allowing interoperability and better care coordination. It was also meant to improve population health by providing better data. It was meant to reduce costs by saving all the excess paper wasted on paper charts. And finally, it was meant to make life easier for physicians, who would have easier access to comprehensive patient data.
It is not too late to get back on track. Electronic Health Records can be used to achieve the Quadruple Aim. The answer is not to create the perfect EHR – there is no such thing. Rather, as EHRs open up their APIs to third-party applications and innovation, we can build personalized, functional technology that improves patient care while also improving the work-life balance of physicians.
Moving the Needle Towards the Quadruple Aim
As more EHR vendors open up their APIs to third-party applications, we can continue to move the needle towards the Quadruple Aim. There are three reasons why third-party applications could bring us closer to meeting this Quadruple Aim.
Opening Up APIs to Third-Party Vendors Promotes Innovation
Progress only comes through continual innovation. When EHRs open up their APIs to third-party vendors, it promotes innovation. It is an open invitation to create new technology that could benefit the entire healthcare community.
Third-Party Applications Allow Customization
When EHRs include third-party applications, this allows physicians to customize their EHR based on their particular needs. This can greatly improve the work-life balance of physicians. Forcing physicians with widely varying needs and workflows into a one-size-fits-all box does nothing to promote work-life balance, and it leads to frustration. Freedom to customize their EHR, on the other hand, could greatly reduce burnout.
The Possibilities Are Endless
There is so much that can be done by using third-party applications in Electronic Health Records. The possibilities for what they can achieve in bringing us closer to the Quadruple Aim are endless. The point is that as long as there is no innovation, there will be no movement towards the goals we have set as a healthcare community.
Get What You Need From Your EHR
This has already started to happen. EHRs are opening up their APIs, and third-party applications exist that work with your EHR. You can get all the patient data that you need on one screen with AccelaVIEW, and you don’t have to switch EHR vendors to get it. Find out more and start your free design.