Walk Before Running to Manage Technology Overload


Imagine a scene where two individuals are talking, and one of them begins to provide the other with more information—usually personal—than the former really wants to know.

“Too much information,” they’ll say, often forming a ‘T’ with their hands to signal time out. It can be a humorous scene.

But there’s nothing funny about information overload, specifically technology overload, where medical practices are concerned. It’s a serious problem.

“We are in the infancy of the switch over from paper files to electronic records,” says Derrick Handwerk, managing partner of Handwerk Multi Family Office. “The small physician practices of two to four physicians cannot keep up with the costs involved with an electronic medical record and will continue to face profitability pressures.”

Problem Assessment : Handwerk says that physicians are being coerced by Medicare to use EMR systems. The drawbacks are reduced patient throughput. And with the reduction in the number of patients comes the subsequent reduction in revenue.   “Two of my physician clients have small groups,” Handwerk says. “We just came to the conclusion that they’re 60 years old, and they’re going to ride it out using a paper system. Because they just can’t afford an EMR system and make it pay for itself.”   The result, he says, is some physicians being driven out of business and others selling to hospitals and other groups because they can’t afford the overhead. Still others continue grappling with data complexity, unable to merge sources to drive real time decision-making.   Julia Barnett, chief nursing officer at Union General Hospital in Blairsville, GA, says that technology overload, often in the form of having to re-learn new systems, becomes time-consuming for both clinical and non-clinical staff.   “And any time we’re having to do that it’s taking away from what we’re all about, which is taking care of our patients,” she says.

Finding a Solution: In August 2015, Barnett and her colleagues began using Sisense, a business analytics software company with offices in New York City and Tel Aviv, as a way to get their arms around all the data required for running a hospital, caring for patients, and meeting regulatory requirements.   “We found it to be more valuable after we initially got it, and continue to find it more valuable as we think of other applications within our hospital system where we can use it and save time,” Barnett explains.