How to close the disconnect between developers, users of HIT

Doctor typing on laptop

Photo credit: Getty/shironosov

The disconnect between the developers who create health IT tools and those who use them is a roadblock to true innovation in the industry, according to a trio of health and technology experts.

The creators of apps, wearables and IT systems don’t interact often, if at all, with patients and clinicians, which can lead to little understanding for how their tools will be used and what they are needed for most, Robert S. Rudin, Ph.D., David W. Bates, M.D., and Calum MacRae, Ph.D., write in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The disconnect doesn’t end there, the authors say. Physicians also are not always able to properly express to engineers and developers what changes or additions to systems and software they need.

Because of that, issues arise that include tools that can be customized, but only through great effort by the user, or one-size-fits-all functionalists that don’t fit the needs of all users.

However, the authors note that there are solutions, including:

  • Creation of teams made up of both developers and IT firms as well as patients and clinicians that can take part in innovation programs to push for better collaboration.
  • Direct interaction with those who will use the tools the most, patients and clinicians, through interviews and observations
  • Redesigning care processes to better fit with newly developed technologies

“Research from other industries shows that most IT benefits do not result from ‘paving the cow path,’" the researchers write. "Instead, major transformations occur after intensive process re-engineering to leverage the technology’s potential."