They say all good things must come to an end, and today marks the end of the 2017 eClinicalWorks National Conference. But what if there were a way to preserve the sense of discovery and renewal that we experienced this past weekend in Dallas? What if you could take it all back to your practice with you, and somehow open it up fresh every time you needed a bit of inspiration?
Well, perhaps you can. To put the proper finishing touch on what has been a true milestone for eClinicalWorks — featuring the debut of Eva the virtual assistant, a first taste of V11, healow Virtual Room, and advances in interoperability — let’s go back to the start of the Conference.
Early in his Keynote address on Friday morning, eClinicalWorks CEO Girish Navani touched on a point that is too often overlooked: Innovation has a downside. It brings change. Change makes people uncomfortable. And forming new habits takes time.
Delve deep into the dictionary, and you’ll learn that “innovate” was coined early in the 17th century — an unimaginably long time ago from a medical perspective. Four hundred years ago, the only medical records were those that physicians wrote down, or could store in their memories. Science itself was only beginning to emerge into something that we of the 21st century would recognize. Doctors knew a good deal about anatomy, but very little about precisely how the body and brain worked.
Think now of the computers we use every day. Most of us at this National Conference likely gave little thought to bringing along our laptops and smartphones. How would we communicate otherwise? How would we keep tabs on our patients? How would we order dinner? Get a cab? Find out what was open and what was closed?
Now consider this: One generation ago, the internet didn’t exist. Fifteen years ago, Electronic Health Records were still in their infancy. Five years ago, interoperability was still a matter of making point-to-point connections. Initiatives such as Carequality and CommonWell were unknown. And a week ago, only a few of us had met Eva!
As we go forward, we will continue to expect patient data to be comprehensive, available on demand at the point of care, and shared among all providers who need access to it. When Eva reports for duty, we’ll quickly learn to depend on her, as well. Each new step in technology, after all, contributes to the quality care we all want.
So what has changed?
Well, the technology has certainly advanced. eCWCentral was filled all weekend with devices, brochures and displays that would have stunned a physician from 1940, never mind those from 1640. Given the pace of change, in another 20 years, doctors may well look back on the tools and technologies of 2017 as dated and lacking in many ways — ways we can only speculate upon for now.
But the real change — from the past to the present, and from the present to the future — has much less to do with technology than it has to do with our brains. What really matters is the change in our thinking. Whether our role is that of the software developer who makes the first foray into a new idea, or the physician whose job it will be to implement the finished product that emerges — or anyone in-between — the critical difference lies in how we implement human knowledge.
It is what goes on within us, including our hearts, which matters most. It is important as we leave Dallas to remember what we are all about: Healing. Caring. Patience. Dedication to our fellow human beings.
Technology is a wonderful thing, but technology — and the many rules and regulations it spawns — will always change over time. When the days ahead bring us challenges and frustrations, remember the values that are timeless. Let’s keep those in mind as we continue our shared journey to improve healthcare together.