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Health IT Developers Working to Understand Clinical Workflows

Physicians are working side-by-side with health IT developers from Google and Apple to offer insight into clinical workflows.

Health IT developers and clinicians are working side by side to create health IT tools that fit into clinical workflows.

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- Health IT developers from Google, Apple, and other tech companies are working with clinicians to gain a better understanding of clinical workflows during app development, according to CNBC.

UCHealth Chief Innovation Officer and emergency room physician Richard Zane, MD, has invited health IT developers from different companies to observe the way he interacts with EHR technology and uses health IT tools for clinical documentation and clinical decision-making.

While Zane offers health IT developers insight into certain administrative tasks associated with patient care, he does not invite the engineers into operating rooms or allow them to see patient information.

Zane initially began inviting health IT developers into the clinical setting after identifying a need for innovators to understand how their products are used.

“We found that tech companies more often than not had a preconceived notion of how health care worked,” Zane told CNBC.

By allowing developers to gain a full understanding of the ways their technologies are applied to clinical care, Zane hopes health IT companies will start to build tools better-suited for the clinical environment.

RxRevu startup founder Carm Huntress is one health IT developer who has shadowed Zane and incorporated this new knowledge of the clinical setting into app development.

The Colorado-based health IT company worked with UCHealth to develop a service that assists physicians with prescribing. RxRevu’s health IT solution helps clinicians quickly identify potential adverse drug interactions, patient allergies to medication, or whether a patient’s insurance will cover a specific drug.

The health IT product is intended to streamline and improve the prescribing process for clinicians.

During his time observing Zane, Huntress said he noticed clinicians often ignore notifications that pop up on their EHR interfaces. This indicated to Huntress that alert fatigue is a common problem among clinicians, and that reducing notifications may help to improve the usability of RxRevu’s product.

 “He pushed me hard to say, ‘Look, let’s pair your engineers with our clinicians, so you’ll understand a day in the life before you build,’” said Huntress. “He was 100 percent right.”

The movement to include clinicians in the health IT development process has expanded to include large tech giants such as Apple and Google.

Large tech companies including Apple have hired clinicians onto their health IT development teams to provide input during design decisions, as well as feedback about how to best sell products to hospital networks.

Former Google engineer Brandon Ballinger spent months working with doctors at University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center before launching his company — Cardiogram — which designs wearables that collect data to diagnose common medical conditions.

“Brandon volunteered with us at about full-time for a year, sat in on research meetings and helped us in return with data science projects,” UCSF cardiologist Greg Marcus told CNBC. “Frequently entrepreneurs without clinical expertise, without adequate consultation might be misled in thinking their flashy tech by itself is sufficient, without thinking about how it will actually aid us.”

“I’m a strong advocate for entrepreneurs reaching out, and I think many physicians would want to help,” he added.

Apple and Google have been making efforts over the past year to enter the healthcare sector, with Apple releasing its Health Records feature in January 2018.

The Health Records feature functions as an EHR data viewer that allows users to view their health information from iOS devices.

The app uses Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) to aggregate patient health data from disparate sources and present the data to patients in a single, user-friendly view.

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