Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Medical Malpractice Insurer CRICO Challenges "EMR Complacency" - Or Do They?

In my Feb. 28, 2014 post "Malpractice Claims Analysis Confirms Risks in EHRs" ( I pointed out that the annual medical malpractice claims related to health IT received by the insurer for the Harvard medical community, one of the world's best users of health IT, might represent a significant percentage of the annual med mal claims in the state of Massachusetts.  Many involved serious injury.

I also pointed out that the claims themselves represent only a small fraction of total incidents of med mal-related harms (including due to IT), due to the economic realities of med malpractice litigation.

In the press release reproduced below, CRICO writes of poor integration and "design deficiencies" - bad health IT - and that "there has been no apparent leader in this field making a concerted effort to design the next generation of EMRs with the physician in mind", and that they hear "significant frustration from physicians related to their experience with EMRs." 

However, CRICO does not write of the reasons why these issues are as prevalent as they are.

Their claim appears to be, in essence, that these problems will be solved through dialog and "conversation" - in other words, appeals to corporate altruism.

Why this industry receives special accommodation even from those who have to pay for their mistakes is beyond me:

CRICO Challenges EMR Complacency 
February 6, 2013

In a recently released video, CRICO offers a vision of how EMRs of the future might improve health care safety for both patient and physician. 

Press Release:  Cambridge, MA — CRICO, the patient safety and medical professional liability company serving the Harvard medical community, has produced a video that puts forth a future vision of how Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) might be embedded into the physician workflow in a manner that would improve health care delivery. CRICO has based the dramatization on real malpractice cases. Through combined analysis of how harm can come to patients from flawed encounters with providers, and conversations with medical and technological visionaries across the country, the video integrates various scenarios into an idealized patient/physician encounter. 

Hearing significant frustration from physicians related to their experience with EMRs, CRICO was inspired to envision a way in which they might be better integrated into  the clinical workflow. This would allow the EMR to offer some relief to physicians and nurses who face seemingly insurmountable challenges of time and data management.

Luke Sato, MD, chief medical officer and senior vice president for CRICO said, “The impetus behind this video was to facilitate a dialogue among health care professionals—physicians, IT, hospital administrators—about why we aren’t making better progress in the development of EMRs.  Through analysis of medical malpractice claims, we have line of sight to design deficiencies in the EMR that contribute to claims. The best technological design is one that is integrated seamlessly into one’s workflow. The current EMR is passive—the physician has to actively look for data instead of the technology anticipating what the physician needs to act on.”

Opinions within the health care industry are diverse about EMRs but there has been no apparent leader in this field making a concerted effort to design the next generation of EMRs with the physician in mind. In addition to a need for standards across systems, the manual data entry of today’s EMRs adds to the burden of already time-pressed physicians.

The film was created as a collaborative effort between CRICO’s Luke Sato, MD and David Ting, MD, associate medical director for information systems at Massachusetts General Physicians Organization, who acted as an expert resource for script development and video production. Ting said, “The actual purpose of the video is to ask whether we might intelligently prioritize today’s choices to move our institutions toward improved patient care and improve provider and practice work-life experience.”

While most of the technology that is used in this dramatization is available today, other elements are further out. CRICO’s future vision, as depicted in the video, is meant as a launching pad to begin the conversation about how new technologies can provide a way to enable EMRs to enhance, streamline, and make safer the patient-physician encounter.

Dr. Ting has encouraged his colleagues at MGH to view the video and share their feedback. The physician reaction has elicited a variety of reactions and diverse feedback ranging from “cool, efficient, saves time, and improves outcomes” to “I don’t want voices interfering with my patient interactions.”  The video is available for viewing on the CRICO website, 


For more than 30 years, CRICO has been the patient safety and medical professional liability company owned by and serving the Harvard medical community.

CRICO is an internationally renowned leader in evidence-based risk management, proudly serving more than 12,000 physicians (including residents and fellows), 22 hospitals, and nearly 209 other health care organizations.

They see the problems but do not engage the human reasons for the problems, including generic leadership, conflicts of interest, incompetence, territoriality, profit motive, and the other ills that we write of till our faces turn blue at Healthcare Renewal.

In other words, their "challenge to EHR complacency" is about as powerful as our challenges have been to Vladimir Putin regarding Crimea and Ukraine.

Perhaps when the payouts become even more severe, insurers will think it a good idea to stop 'making nice' with an intrusive and unregulated industry that has invaded clinical affairs like a bull in a china shop.

Can we please, pretty please dialog for a bit about your breaking the dishes?

-- SS

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