Executive Outlook: Mudit Garg, technology has “utterly failed” our clinicians

Mudit Garg joins State of Reform’s Executive Outlook as a guest columnist. He serves as the CEO and Founder of analyticsMD, an early stage prescriptive analytics firm based in Silicon Valley. Backed by premier investors such as YCombinator, Mudit and his team build closed-loop solutions that can prescribe actions from real-time data to improve efficiency and outcomes at hospitals such as Stanford Children’s Hospital, Sutter Health, El Camino Hospital, and Mercy Health.

There is a growing realization in healthcare that we have a satisfaction crisis on our hands. I don’t mean patient satisfaction (although that remains critically important), but rather clinician and front line provider satisfaction.

A recent study conducted by the Mayo Clinic and the American Medical Association found that over 50% of physicians experience some form of burnout. Our frontline providers are performing a juggling act, balancing hundreds of tasks to deliver excellent care, while still providing a low-cost, high-quality experience.

Unfortunately, just continuing to ask our frontline clinicians to “work harder” is not enough. Technology needs to help them “work smarter,” but it has utterly failed to do that.

A classic example is how data is used in healthcare today. The last decade in health IT is probably best characterized as the decade of data entry. Clinicians have entered tons of data into various electronic systems. While they have come to live with this burden, we are now also expecting them to decipher this data.

Measurement of hundreds of metrics by public and private payors is still being executed on mediocre software, creating an incredible cognitive load on a frontline clinician whose primary focus should be the patient.

Software needs to make our lives easier, not more complex. A great example is Google Maps, which frees us from evaluating the best route, and even lets us know how long it takes to get there. It is constantly computing in the background to provide the user with the best and most informed trip possible.

Physician burnout is a complex issue which will require multiple interventions to address, some of which will take years to implement. One very attractive, immediate solution is easing the frontline clinician’s cognitive workload. Busy frontline workers dealing with emergencies do not have time to analyze dashboards, graphs, or charts, even if readily available. They need to know their options in real-time.

This has been core to our mission at analyticsMD. Our Artificial Intelligence (AI) monitors, predicts, and prescribes optimal operational actions to the clinician in real time.

There is much industry discussion about the effectiveness of primary care teams working together to deliver better care. Such teams could be enhanced further by our virtual assistant who scours data—from EMR to publicly available flu trends to guide teams with data-driven recommendations.

We have seen broad-based success in applying this methodology.

For example, a community hospital in Silicon Valley reported reducing falls by ~40% in less than six months by implementing our model. The software was able to evaluate data inputs from multiple sources in real time, constantly computing if a patient was at risk for an imminent fall, informing the nurse when additional attention was needed.

For years, the brightest minds in healthcare and technology have co-existed in two separate worlds. But as software and data continue to play an integral role in enhancing care, we must find ways to help the best come together to solve the challenges in our industry.

As we embark on what is sure to be one of the most exciting decades in healthcare, there needs to be greater focus, and more innovation, around the most important part of care delivery: our front line clinicians.