Physician-to-physician communication has become an increasingly difficult problem and its lack has worsened the fragmentation of healthcare today. The challenge is complicated by many things:
- Physicians lack the time to call colleagues about patients when their income is patient volume-based
- Fewer opportunities for direct physician contact, i.e. the doctor's lounge
- EHR systems cannot talk to each other
- Patients don't always tell their physicians about other doctors taking care of them
- Printed EHR records are so full of verbiage that important findings are missed by the doctors trying to scan pages of unimportant documentation
- Patients rarely carry their health histories with them in any format outside of memory
Another problem, at least in the healthcare system where I work, is the lack of a centralized area where physicians can come together to find community specific information. Blast emails are sent to doctors whose boxes are already full of "junk", making it difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. Recognizing this problem I recently approached the IT department at my institution.
It was gratifying to me that they not only understood the issue, but were excited about assisting in a solution. My vision is to create a Physician Community where providers can go to find answers and communicate in a secure environment about any number of issues--problems with EHR, announcements, medical directors' updates, calendars with CME and other dates of interest, blogs, CME, vlogs, links to outside trustworthy medical sites, and a place to crowdsource patient or system problems. IT gave me access to build such a community in a Sharepoint environment.
Of course in addition to the problem of building the environment and populating it with what the doctors need, is getting them to use it. I feel certain that "If you build it they will come" does not apply in this situation. I envision needing to enlist lots of assistance from the President and CMO of the system down to the office managers and EHR superusers.
I'm a firm believer that Social Media is the most important revolution in patient care today. Effective electronic communication between physician is part of that movement. But today, as I'm reading Sharepoint for Dummies, I can't help but wonder--what was I thinking and can this make a difference?
1. Shannon MD MPH, Shannon. peg.org. January/February 2012. http://www.perfectserve.com/resources/docs/ACPE-PhysicianCommunication.pdf