Healthcare technology and the human touch

Technology is everywhere and it is amazing. It touches nearly every aspect of our lives, from the most intricate to the most mundane, making our lives easier and richer in many ways.

Being of an age where I can clearly delineate the “before” and “after,” I remember my own excitement as I realized the benefits of increased information access and mobility in my personal life. The anticipation as the world looked for new ways to make this revolution shape our future was exciting.

An industry where technology quickly gained ground was healthcare. The benefits of a tech-heavy and paper-light healthcare industry are great: Streamlined pathways to sharing information, ability for multiple caregivers to access records simultaneously, decreased risk of information loss related to paper documentation and ability to better track care for follow-up collaboration and reimbursement.

Unfortunately, for caregivers and patients, it seemed the need for speed of implementation due to incentives such as Meaningful Use quickly outweighed the importance of technology that supported well-thought-out and developed clinical workflows.

During my decades of work as a clinician, I sadly noted how the clinical voice was being pushed to the side. I found myself increasingly frustrated that technology was pulling me further and further away from the bedside.

Instead, my time became devoted to box clicks and scrolling screen searches instead of providing face-to-face care and support.

A quest to share knowledge

I wanted to change this, so I searched for technology companies interested in my knowledge and experience as well as my willingness to share both. I was disappointed, but not surprised, to find a small list from which to choose.

After all, clinicians and software engineers have vastly different thoughts on what constitutes an “efficient workflow” and I was interested in creating workflows clinicians could actually use. Most companies I researched provided linear processes and repeatable workflows such as A+B+C always leads to D.

However, my experience proved providing care to individuals is decidedly not linear. Caring for patients is intricate with many factors to carefully consider. In healthcare, the variables always change, so while A+B+C sometimes leads to D, it can just as easily lead to E, M, R and Y.

Using frustration as a catalyst for change

I felt my frustration turn to aggravation, which altered my ability to be what I had always been – a happy healthcare professional devoted to providing engaged, personalized care. I saw my future, and I wasn’t happy about it.

I thought long and hard, concluding that having spent over 25 years serving the community, caring for literally tens of thousands of mothers and their babies, maybe it was time to serve my own community.

After researching my narrowed-down list, I found my niche: Hyland and its ECM product, OnBase. To be clear, as an RN, the terms enterprise content management and enterprise information platforms meant nothing to me, but here was a company with a vision for providing organized access to clinical information and a foundation of core values that spoke to me as a caregiver.

Hyland maintains an environment that fosters community and collaboration between colleagues, partners and customers. It mirrors the work environment I enjoyed in my early days as a nurse. It was a perfect fit.

Over the past five years, I have seen the engagement between technology vendors and clinicians continue to grow. I hope that my colleagues throughout the technology space continue to actively pursue feedback from clinicians, just as I hope that my colleagues at the bedside become more and more insistent that their voices are heard.

In the end, we all are driving to the same goal – using technology that positively impacts clinicians’ ability to provide safe, efficient and quality patient care.

Julie McDonald

Julie McDonald

Julie McDonald, RN, is a focused healthcare professional with a strong clinical, administrative and leadership background. Julie is passionate about utilizing her 25 years of industry knowledge to assist in creating and leveraging technology solutions that will improve the experience of clinicians and their patients as Hyland’s Healthcare Business Consultant. Her past nursing experience has been in both a large, urban university-based medical center as well as a moderate sized community hospital, with a focus on clinical excellence, mentorship, and education of both patients and colleagues. This has provided her with a broad perspective of healthcare organizations and the unique and not so unique challenges they experience. Julie’s experience in facilitating collaboration among professionals and leading a team collective for a superior quality-of-care experience in a stressful, emotion-driven environment has been invaluable to her role at Hyland. It has helped her to provide a more meaningful discussion about how clinical needs and technical capabilities can be synchronized to provide a superior clinician and patient experience in an environment that is rapidly changing and challenging both clinically and technically.

3 Responses

  1. Stephen A Cobb says:

    This is a very inspirational post. The Love and passion one has for their chosen field can often turn to frustration and aggravation. Utilizing one’s passion further fueled and focused by the need for change is indeed a powerful force. Thanks Julie, I loved your post. I’m in process of my own passionate pursuit to make a difference. The endless tasks and nearly overwhelming processes required to turn my Small Business Start-Up dream into reality are at times daunting. I’m inspired and motivated by your success. Well done

  2. Julie McDonald Julie McDonald says:

    Thanks, Stephen. It’s true that the first few steps toward big changes can be enough to make you want to turn around and run back to your safety net, but if the passion is there, just keep pushing. I wish you all the best in your new adventures!

  3. Stephen A. Cobb says:

    Thanks Julie, I embrace the challenge and my resolve is stedfast. I really love everything I’ve read about Hyland and Onbase, and they seem like an awesome company to work for or with. I still have a few miles to go in my start-up activities and process before I’m prepared to be evaluate and be in position to leverage their offerings. I also think that their business model is more suited toward medium to large type businesses, but I will keep my eyes and mind open to all possibilities. Thanks again, and your journey is inspiring and I wish you all the best.


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