Health IT

Allscripts CEO Paul Black on interoperability, provider burnout and more

In a phone interview, Allscripts CEO Paul Black chatted about interoperability, artificial intelligence and provider burnout, as well as what Allscripts has been up to recently.

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Since 2012, Paul Black has served as CEO of Chicago-based EHR company Allscripts. He previously spent time working at Cerner, where he held the COO position, and IBM, where he took on various leadership roles.

In a recent phone interview, Black discussed numerous hot topics in healthcare — including interoperability, artificial intelligence and provider burnout — and what Allscripts is up to.

This exchange has been lightly edited.

You recently penned a blog post about why the VA should focus on interoperability. Could you discuss the post, as well as what Allscripts is doing on the interoperability front?

If we take a step back and look at where healthcare is in the U.S. circa 2018, you’ll notice the infrastructure today is almost completely wired. That begets the question: How do I get data from one EHR to another one?

I consider that to be a high-class problem. There are solutions that are out there today, and Allscripts has been investing in one since 2009.

On the VA, we’ve had a lot of conversations with those folks. We’re relatively up to speed on what the requirements are on that. What the VA is all about is not only the replacement of electronic medical records, but also connecting to many other source systems that sit outside the ecosystem. Having the totality of the veteran’s record is important.

How does the drive toward healthcare consumerism affect a technology company like Allscripts?

We’ve been using the consumer moniker for a long period of time. If our vision is to be an open, connected community of health, it also has a component where we’re talking about the consumer.

Our approach to consumers starts with our FollowMyHealth platform. It doesn’t require that the consumer is attached to an Allscripts EMR. At the end of the day, I own the information about myself and should be able to grant consent to who looks at my record, which is the way our consumer platform operates.

AI is a hot topic in healthcare right now. How is Allscripts getting involved in the machine learning space?

Allscripts has a lot of data that we can look at and analyze. There are some 40 million lives that we have deidentified in our data constructs today that give us insight and the capability to do research. We have people whose work at our company is devoted to insights that come out of studying that data.

If you think about how your experience when you go shopping works, the third or fourth time you shop on a site, it will begin suggesting items. There’s no reason why the same type of learning can’t be applied to the way a primary care physician practices. Equally on the financial side, you’ll be able to see patterns of consumption based on the location of the clinic and the patient.

What are your thoughts on provider burnout? How is Allscripts working to promote provider wellness?

The other reality of everyone now using a system is that you’ve got a lot of people who have historically never used computers before being subjected to a number of clinical, financial and quality metrics.

As the Meaningful Use requirements have come down, sometimes that [data entry] burden has fallen on the caregiver, and specifically the physician. There’s a term called “pajama rounds,” where they’re finishing their work after hours.

All EMRs have made some contribution to this effect. Therefore, what can we do to help a group of highly trained humans whose time is valuable?

The machine learning I talked about a minute ago — that kind of helpful computerization would be beneficial to these people. The second thing is: Is there a way for us to have less keyboard requirements? Can you move toward a keyboardless visit? There’s value that the automation would bring them to help augment the patient’s experience in the care setting.

What else does Allscripts have coming down the pipeline?

2017 has been a great year for Allscripts. As a result of the work that’s been going on the last five years, we see at the end of 2017 a clear separation of Allscripts, Cerner and Epic [from the rest of the pack]. That’s thanks to a lot of work on our clients’ part who continue to have faith that we’re the right supplier to work with on an ongoing basis.

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