By Andrew Robinson, Relias

Not 20 years ago, industries shuddered at the threat of Jan. 1, 2000, because of a fear that computers would not be able to process the change from 1999 to 2000. Today, patients get text reminders on their mobile smartphones that they have an upcoming appointment with a provider or use telehealth apps to see and talk with their care teams without ever leaving their homes. Technology has dramatically shaped the way we live, including the delivery and provision of healthcare.

Technological innovations have brought significant gains to healthcare — and few patients or providers would roll the scroll back to 1999. However, healthcare organizations and case managers have room for improvement in how they integrate technology into their workflows.

From electronic medical records (EMRs) to electronic medical devices and clinical decision support tools, healthcare workers and providers are engaging in an increasing number of activities to deliver care.

Besides new tools, recent research indicates the amount of medical knowledge available continues to increase dramatically and is projected to double every 73 days by 2020.1

The increasing level of burnout for providers is cause for concern, and one factor many healthcare providers cite is the rise of mandatory EMR systems. However, EMRs are powerful tools that can yield the following benefits:

  • improve patient safety through clinical decision support;
  • provide easier access to clinical data;
  • allow providers to easily interact with other hospitals, clinics, labs, and pharmacies;
  • promote complete documentation and accurate coding.

Providers’ complaints around EMR use often center around difficulty of use and their ability to distract from the patient-provider interaction.

There are ways to mitigate these drawbacks, including using a virtual assistant or a scribe to transpose the provider’s comments from an appointment or building time into the workday for providers to enter data into the EMR.

Considering how the new technology will affect existing workflows is important, as noted in a Relias whitepaper.2 When making a change in a healthcare facility’s technology, leaders need to ensure ease of use and plan the adoption strategy carefully. Weighing the impact on case managers, providers, and the rest of the care team should be part of the initial discussion.

Because the goal of technology is to improve outcomes for all, an optimal solution requires minimal learning and offers efficiencies over existing workflows to reduce cognitive load.


  1. Densen, P. Challenges and opportunities facing medical education. Trans Am Clin Climatol Assoc 2011; 122:48–58.
  2. Relias. Overworking Your Working Memory: The Effect of Cognitive Load on Patient Care. Available at: