Healthcare IT – Not a Replacement for the People Behind the Scenes

The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly evolved many facets of the Healthcare IT universe and the ways that physicians, patients, and technology integrate into a dynamic system. The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference, which had ~19,000 in-person attendees in August 2021, offered a digital component with virtual webinars and networking opportunities for those who wanted to participate remotely due to COVID concerns. The HIMSS 21 digital events spanned a range of themes including, telehealth, the digital revolution, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and healthcare disparities. But, perhaps the greatest takeaway from the fusion of these themes is that there needs to be a better understanding of the unmet needs of both providers and patients to fully maximize technologies and tools to integrate into the healthcare IT system. Healthcare IT, whether it’s a telehealth system, enterprise medical software, connected medical device, or patient/physician portal, will only be productive and well-adopted if we understand what the people behind the scenes really need.

One of the main points that was reiterated throughout HIMSS 21 Digital is that advances in technology have been a large contributor to physician burnout. During the virtual session, “Global Burnout: Can Digital Transformation be the Cause and the Cure,” a panel of healthcare providers explained that technologies such as EMRs, Zoom/Team meetings, patient portals, and the constant influx of data from wearables have made it impossible for providers to disconnect from work. Providers are now essentially on-call all hours of the day, whether they are in clinic or at home, to handle administrative duties, interpret data, and respond to real-time patient questions. Isil Arican, Director, Ambulatory EMR & Portals, Stanford Children’s Health, explained there is a lot of frustration among providers because they are not properly trained on how to effectively use the range of digital tools and how to interpret the massive amount of data the comes in daily. An increase in telehealth visits has led to greater efficiencies in some cases, but is also a big culprit of provider burnout. Physicians explained that while these tools were invaluable during COVID, they also can be exhausting, especially when providers must simultaneously navigate the challenges related to state licensures, regulations, and billing/reimbursement issues.

There is significant potential for telehealth, enterprise medical software, and all associated healthcare technologies to improve both provider’s and patient’s lives, but there needs to be a better focus on designing technology systems and tools that consider what the end users need. Scott Cullen, Chief Clinical Innovation Officer, Accenture, noted that many of the tools have focused on physician productivity, but have not homed in on the human centric lens of the patient journey, or humanized the user interface of the portals so that providers and patients have a good experience. He explained that there is a huge unmet need to those in the tech space, when thinking about AI, to factor in a humanization element so that both providers and patients can benefit from the technologies versus perceiving them as a burden.

Maia Strategy Group, founded in 2003, is a strategy consulting firm that leverages market intelligence and in-depth customized research and analysis to advise healthcare IT clients that serve every face of the healthcare value chain. We help some of the most well-known and innovative providers of IT-driven solutions to identify and qualify new market opportunities and unmet needs, differentiate from the competition, and adapt solutions to capitalize on market trends and keep pace with new regulations.

To learn more about Maia’s Healthcare Information Technology experience and how we might be able to help you improve your HIT systems visit our Healthcare IT page. If you want to chat directly with a team member about HIMSS 2021 insights or have specific questions about our HIT consulting services, reach out to Holly at

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