Kaiser CEO: Clinician buy-in key to digital integration

Doctor with computer and gadgets
Physician buy-in is critical to large-scale digital integration within healthcare.

Health systems attempting to integrate new digital health tools will struggle to find success without buy-in from physicians and nurses, according to the CEO of Kaiser Permanente.

Clinicians who are reluctant to give up their personal relationships with patients are often skeptical of digital health solutions that could interfere with those interactions, Bernard Tyson, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente, told The Wall Street Journal. Kaiser has pushed to integrate new tech tools into its system by improving access to telehealth and testing out new data collection efforts.

Tyson said the efforts to integrate digital solutions have been “extremely difficult” because the system had to account for any workflow changes that might impact the physician-patient relationship.

“There was a lot of concern about breaking that trusted relationship, a lot of questions as to whether or not it would really work in the healthcare industry,” he said. “It took a lot of buy-in, and conversations and engaging the physicians in particular but the other healthcare workers, too. So ultimately it wasn’t done to them.”

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Tyson added that he doesn’t want his CIO to tell him “how great everything is going to be” once a certain technology is implemented, and he said health systems can’t implement a new system and then force it on clinicians.

Jeanne Ross, a principal research scientist at the MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research, told the publication that getting over that initial hump is difficult, but once organizations successfully integrate digital solutions, it will open up new opportunities for physicians to improve patient care.

Digital tools are becoming more pervasive throughout every healthcare sector, but doctors have expressed concerns about the time necessary to comb through useful data and the ability for patients to access and use various tools. Healthcare experts have said tech will play a supportive role for physicians moving forward, while the CEO of the American Medical Association has urged physicians to get more involved with mobile app development in order to avoid repeating some of the usability pitfalls tied to EHRs.