Simplifying health care for consumers and caregivers one of the key priorities for health IT in 2018, leaders conclude

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Patients and their caregivers need a more simplified health care experience – whether it’s how consumers interact with their health systems or by eliminating menial tasks that are burning out physicians.

Those were among key digital health priorities advocated by health care leaders discussing takeaways from the Top of Mind for Top U.S. Health Systems 2018 summit at the Center for Connected Medicine (CCM) in Pittsburgh.

In a panel discussion led by UPMC Chief Innovation Officer Rasu Shrestha, MD, MBA, two prominent health IT executives stressed that patients need more consumer-friendly ways to access their health providers. And doctors need relief from the mundane tasks that are keeping them from delivering care.

“Patients are the general contractors for their health,” said Aaron Martin, chief digital officer of Providence St. Joseph’s Health. “How do we change that experience?”

Graham Hughes, MD, chief executive officer of Sutherland Healthcare, said his firm is working with health systems to minimize the menial tasks providers are required to perform.

“We need to eliminate the steps that are just busy work,” Hughes said.

The CCM’s Top of Mind 2018 summit convened more than 80 leaders from health care organizations to discuss pressing issues in health IT for the coming year. The summit coincided with the release of a new research report from the CCM and The Health Management Academy based on surveys of executives at major health systems on digital health trends.

While health care has significant room for improvement when it comes to making the patient experience more consumer-friendly, Martin also cautioned that physician-patient relationship is different from other parts of the consumer experience in health care. The provider’s job is to offer professional services to patients which won’t always be pleasant, he said.

“You’re having a customer experience right up until the moment you sit down with the clinician,” Martin said. “Where we get dangerous is talking to physicians too much about their customer service – their job is to provide professional help.”

More coverage: Former CIA technology official outlines cybersecurity ‘moonshot’ at Top of Mind 2018 summit

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