This morning, I sat down with MedCity News Editor-in-Chief Arundhati Parmar at the inaugural ViVE event in Miami to discuss many things – including how Cerner, caregivers and partners can work together to use data to improve broader outcomes in healthcare. The primary message I hope attendees take away from my time on stage is fairly simple: we have an obligation to make care delivery more equitable, more cost-effective, easier and more convenient for our families, friends, neighbors and communities.
Since joining Cerner in October 2021, I’ve met with hundreds of Cerner’s clients, physicians and nurses, plus many more industry partners. These clinicians have dedicated their lives to improving the health of others. They didn’t join this profession because they wanted to spend half their time at the terminal. They want to be at the bedside, in the clinic or out with their communities helping others make healthier decisions. We should be there every step of the way making this possible.
For more than four decades, Cerner has undertaken the enormous lift of digitizing health records for hundreds of millions of people. In this time, we’ve effectively helped remove the pen and paper chart from the equation. Unfortunately, digitization in healthcare, as with many industries, has created new problems. We’re done a lot of the heavy lifting; now we need to work on fixing the EHR and realize the promises it can bring for the future of care delivery.
We’ve seen the statistics: 80% of health outcomes are traced back to social and structural determinants of health. Our zip codes – not our DNA – are determining how healthy we are.
COVID shined a light on many clear yet startling examples. For instance, Children’s Hospital of Orange County used Cerner data and found that patients with a history of malnutrition had a higher likelihood of severe COVID. We already knew that age, obesity and comorbidities could impact COVID risk, but with this data, caregivers were able to establish that long-term malnutrition is an important piece of the puzzle. Their work underscored the need for consistent access to nutritional care when treating certain patient populations.
We are not the first to consider the solutions to these problems, but now is the time for the digitized health record to make a meaningful, clinical difference. We need to work to get the right data back in the hands of the frontline caregivers who are caring for patients.
This COVID study, and the many more being done through Cerner’s Learning Health Network, highlight shortcomings in outpatient care, inadequate home care resources and, ultimately, insufficient community programming. Many people visiting the hospital today wouldn’t need to be there if they’d had access to healthy food, adequate transportation and a strong community support system. The healthcare industry needs to embrace data and use it to drive meaningful policies and programs.
A decade from now I hope the EHR is seen as a source of data that helps doctors, nurses and families find ways to better care for themselves. And I hope that that leads to a healthcare system that is much more proactive, equitable and cost-effective. I hope a visit to the doctor is more convenient and dignified. In a perfect world, people wouldn’t groan about a doctor’s visit. Instead, they’d walk away from the clinic knowing they’re on the path to a happier, healthier life.
We’re headed toward the next generation of healthcare. Reduced costs. Accessible health insights. A stronger foundation for doctors, nurses and families to be able to access and act on data to care for themselves. I’m looking forward to working with all of you to make this happen, together.