Neal Patterson, Chairman, CEO and a founding member of Cerner, recently made a surprise appearance at the annual Cerner Health Conference, calling for more focus on patient engagement in EHR use. When Patterson was diagnosed with cancer on New Year’s Eve 2015, he suddenly saw the patient experience from the opposite side of the table.
Thus, he came to better understand EHRs’ shortcomings in facilitating patient coordination and patient engagement, which result primarily from their lack of interoperability. EHRs are still an important aspect of health technology.
Instead of giving the keynote as he usually does, Patterson, who has been on leave for cancer treatment, gave a short speech about how his experience as an oncology patient reshaped his vision of Cerner’s future:
“We [patients] have incredible trust in our providers – we have to. But ultimately, we are at their mercy. Sometimes the caring is not always there, sometimes it’s been lost. I remember waiting four hours to get lab results. I asked a lady next to me in the waiting room how long she had been waiting, and her reply was seven hours … There’s no caring in that.”
Drawing on the inefficiencies he saw in faulty care coordination and implementation, Patterson spoke to the need for patient engagement, along with necessary improvements to EHR technology to provide better care for patients, especially those with complex care paths or who require multiple specialists.
“The EHR needs to make medicine faster and safer, and there needs to be more participation from the patient. The industry’s not there yet. It’s still lacking.”
In many healthcare specialties, but especially in oncology, proper care coordination can make a world of difference in the quality of a patient’s recovery. Technology is a big part of realizing the huge potential of patient engagement. And the point of innovation is to give providers and healthcare organizations the tools they need to support their patients as people throughout the entire treatment cycle, including the most challenging parts, like those Cerner’s CEO came to understand on a first-hand basis.