Oct 2, 2019

A major hospital system is building its own electronic health record

Northwell Health's teaching hospital in New Hyde Park, New York. Photo: Northwell Health

Northwell Health, one of the biggest not-for-profit hospital systems in the country, is planning to develop its own system for electronic medical records, with the ultimate goal of selling the technology to other hospitals and clinics.

Why it matters: Physicians, nurses and others generally dislike most of the existing electronic health record systems. But this is an unusually proactive effort from a hospital system to actually solve those problems.

Where it stands: Most hospitals and physician clinics buy digitized systems from a handful of vendors, primarily Epic and Cerner.

  • Clinicians often say the technology is clunky, involves too much typing and clicking, isn't user-friendly, and makes caring for patients more difficult.
  • "Most of the [electronic health record companies], if not all of them ... haven't really addressed the dissatisfaction that physicians have," John Bosco, Northwell's chief information officer, told Axios.

What's next: Northwell will use an existing Allscripts product called Avenel, which uses artificial intelligence and Microsoft's cloud technology, as the chassis of its new system. Clinicians will then shape how the screens look, how voice assist will work and other details that encumber the current process.

  • Northwell plans to roll out the electronic health record in its physician offices and outpatient settings in the next 12–18 months, and perhaps into its hospitals down the road, Bosco said.
  • He did not disclose how much this would cost, but he said it will be "beyond the tens of millions."
  • The bigger goal is to sell this system to other hospitals and doctors, and "our agreements with Allscripts envision that," Bosco said.

Yes, but: Many physicians have expressed skepticism about AI's potential to change electric health records. Hospital systems also have little to no experience as tech companies.

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