The Intel #DrHIT series continues with a discussion with Randa M. Perkins, MD, the executive director of medical informatics at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare in Tallahassee, Florida. We recently sat down with Dr. Perkins to get her views on medical informatics and the impact on physician workflow, and patient involvement as healthcare technology evolves.
Intel: What are medical informatics and how will deployment modify the medical industry?
Perkins: Medical informatics is the marriage of IT and healthcare – we combine the best parts of IT with the best medical practices and work to improve both. Technology and IT have the ability to make healthcare better, in similar ways it continues to improve all other aspects of our lives. We take for granted all of the ways in which technology consistently makes our lives easier; the tremendous potential for healthcare technology improvements is certainly not out of reach. We work to apply that thinking to the industry as whole – aspects which are broken and those that can stand a transformation.
Intel: How will access to informatics affect daily operations?
Perkins: Now that we’ve adjusted to smartphones as a necessity, we’re slowly training our patients on accessing their records before, during and after each visit. Patients should be able to pull their medication lists, diagnosis and any other physician-related communication, immediately. The big picture of centralized data is a single unified medical record, where the patient has one true record and we have multiple contributors. Patients can see the flow of data and attribution – that’s our ideal state.
Intel: Are there any risks to increasing the technological prowess of medical practices?
Perkins: IT security keeps me up at night – it’s a huge risk for the entire industry, even though we are so heavily dependent on technology. With all new implementations, there are risks, and we have to know the potential threats going into it. Our research is constant; we know what we’re getting into. If you deploy a solution the correct way, carefully, it will make the system better. We must have the structures in place to protect our patients and their data.
Intel: What other challenges will a more IT-integrated healthcare industry present?
Perkins: When working to implement a new IT system into clinical situations, it is imperative to get the clinicians involved. They must have a voice and explain what they need and how they operate. If you don’t understand the needs of the physicians, you run the risk of disturbing the doctor/patient relationship; the nurse/patient relationship. You can’t afford to interrupt that bond. My main goal is to understand what I can do to deploy the technology and be supportive for a seamless transition.
Intel: What are the expectations of patients immersing themselves in improved medial IT?
Perkins: Patient communication is the cornerstone of primary care – there must be a therapeutic relationship between physician and patient. While 24/7 access to a physician plays a significant role in our IT program, the expectation of all-access communications via text, calls, emails and messenger services on our platform must be met with and understanding that my caregiver is doing their best to respond and schedule appropriate time to discuss any pressing material. Our physicians have a good stewardship to handle incoming messages and assess their level of emergency.