We’re pleased to learn more about Interop Hero Dr. Karen Smith in this video interview! Dr. Smith is a family physician practicing in Raeford, North Carolina.  She’s an advocate for technology to improve the patient care experience.  Listen in to hear her viewpoint on being an early adopter of EHR technology, as well as redesigning the practice to better incorporate technology to drive health equity and serve patients.

“When we are not taking care of people where they work, play, and live and we only are looking at patients when they come into the exam room, we miss all of the social determinants of health that interfere with their care…  What could we do to actually meet where people were living, and still be able to have that connection?”

Dr. Smith also shares a story about how technology allows her to embrace the interpersonal relationship with her patients more.  She knows she has immediate access to the information she needs, even though her patients may have received care from other healthcare centers or providers.  Dr. Smith highlights an experience where using Direct Secure Messaging and interoperability allowed her to focus more on her patient’s wellbeing, rather than focus attention on gathering information to treat the patient.  Furthermore, interoperability expedited her ability to secure a specialist appointment for her patient the next day and cut down on the typical referral timeline.

“Because of us having our Direct Messaging system connected with the hospital and the North Carolina HIE, that information was coming in to me, and I could see it.  But even better, I could use that information and then I immediately was able to schedule a referral to the surgeon who was going to see her… we were exchanging information right there in the exam room. ”

“When someone feels like people care about me, my doctors care about me… that is the difference.  I needed to be able to have that information, I needed to be able to export that file to the surgeon immediately so that he could see it.  We were all connected in with this patient.  That’s a really good feeling.  Yeah, the diagnosis is not the best one, but at least we know we’re going to do something to get the best outcome that we possibly can achieve.  Years ago, something would have fell down in the cracks, either the paperwork wouldn’t have made it, or the appointment wouldn’t have been scheduled, but that’s not what happened.  All in 15 minutes we were able to reassure this patient that we are going to do the best thing we can for you.”

Finally, Dr. Smith encourages her fellow physicians to embrace technology, and make it work for them.  Highlighting how providers are using only 30% of their EHR, she calls for us to figure out the gap in why there isn’t higher use of technology capabilities.

“Let’s work our way to better use technology in the exam room and just get to a point where we have increased efficiency, that we can do the quality, and we have the access.  We have so many physicians that are dropping out of healthcare either burnt out, just tired, or having technology fatigue.  We don’t want to lose doctors for that! We actually want doctors to be able to feel more comfortable and really get the joy of practice, but not let technology be a hindrance, let technology be the tool to lead us in the right direction.”

Ending with advice for the health IT industry on how to continue delivering tools that clinicians need, she encourages developers to connect with clinicians and patients.  She says, “We need technology to work every time – we want technology to be part of healthcare, not separate, not added on, not a distinct project, actually integrated in what we do every day.”

Thank you to Interop Hero Dr. Karen Smith for sharing her experience and perspective with us!

Learn more about the Interoperability Hero Initiative and check out our first class of Interoperability Heroes!