EHRs and the Doctor-Patient Relationship

The technologies that will rewrite the future of healthcare will be those that enable new forms of collaboration and eliminate existing barriers for engaging and productive doctor-patient communication.

The doctor-patient relationship is arguably one of the most fundamental components of healthcare. It is the medium through which a significant amount of health information is exchanged, and an important checkpoint for almost every major legal or medical decision in healthcare.

As standards rise and the interaction between doctor and patient becomes increasingly customized and trust-based following recent trends in customer service and process engineering, EHR systems are poised to play an important role in facilitating coming changes in healthcare. This is particularly significant for a patient-centric model of care,where personalized data, customized services and the use of technology are changing traditional forms of practice.

Given the increasing health information patients have access to and their ability to monitor their own progress, having the doctor in the traditional position of complete control makes less sense today than ever before. By emphasizing prevention and outsourcing parts of the healthcare process to individual patients, health organizations aim to create efficiencies and reduce costs. Stakeholders are counting on technology to keep up and set the pace for progress.

Through our research we wanted to understand, from the point of view of medical practitioners, how EHR systems are supporting the evolving aspirations of patients and providers.In conversations with doctors from The Brigham and Women's Hospital, MGH, Cambridge Health Alliance, and other health organizations, we looked at how providers are adjusting to rapidly increasing standards for digital information in healthcare.

In this report we explore a new way of thinking about EHR systems based on the changing roles of Doctors and Patients, and their emerging needs for new and improved collaboration platforms.