On the Health Record- Interview with Aaron Gleave from KLAS Research

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Our interview with Aaron Gleave from KLAS Research touches on several important healthcare technology topics. We discuss how providers go about choosing different software solutions, the issues that face EHR companies today, the ways in which KLAS collects impartial vendor data and more. Our transcript has been edited, but you can listen to the full podcast episode here.

Oleg: What is KLAS Research and what do they do?

Aaron: KLAS has been working on improving healthcare for over 20 years now since the late nineties. It started with our founder, Kent Gale, witnessing the lack of accountability between the vendor and customers, so he started a company to try and drive more transparency in the market and to advocate for providers and ultimately become a consulting partner to the vendors to help them improve and create an excellent customer experience.

Oleg: What are some of the things you do at KLAS to achieve that?

Aaron: Great question. We start by utilizing a foundation of integrity, impartiality and accuracy. From there, we move into actionable directives, such as measuring the market, and we do that by going out and capturing the customer experience. We do thousands of interviews every year across almost a hundred different technology segments now, and we interview customers and healthcare providers across the entire spectrum of roles. That includes scores and ratings and detailed commentary and context. And then we provide that in turn back to the market. We shine a light on that experience, and it creates pressure, because having achieved a gold standard in the industry for doing what we do, our name is taken very seriously now.

Class scores and class rankings are real forces in the market now, so vendors look at that, and they watch that providers come to us by the thousands and make purchasing decisions on this data. So those are some of the steps that we take towards that final mission of improving healthcare, because we’re pushing the vendors to deliver a higher standard of product and service to the provider community, which we then believe translates into them being able to deliver a higher level of medical care.

Oleg: What are some of the biggest challenges that face EHRs today and how to make a successful one that people want to use?

Aaron: If you’re trying to develop a new EMR in today’s market, it’s got to be cloud, it’s got to be very intuitive, it’s got to be as simple as possible, and it’s got to be very effective in addressing specialty-specific needs because the market has become more demanding around specialties. 10 years ago, you could get away with creating these generalized templates for physicians to chart with and then try and force them into using modifications to make it work for pediatrics or OB/GYN. That’s just not flying anymore, because the market has become more sophisticated and more demanding in terms of their level of expectation. They expect a product that’s now more focused and catered to their needs, and they expect to have workflows that are more intuitive and more efficient. There’s less of a tolerance to stay after work charting for two to three hours every night because you can’t get it done while you’re in the exam room. Those issues still plague the market, but these are at the core of the physician experience of utilizing an EHR.

Oleg: Given that there are so many options and given that you don’t really know how technology is going to work until it’s in practice, how should a provider go about choosing their EHR?

Aaron: Ultimately this is at the heart of why we do what we do at KLAS, which is to provide that first place of reference for providers to look and understand how to start that process. Obviously, providers will speak to peers. They’re going to talk to colleagues. A CIO at a hospital is going to talk to other CIOs at other hospitals, and the same type of thing happens across the industry. There’s a lot of word of mouth and sharing of experiences, but ultimately providers want a large and wide breadth of data and experience to reference.

That’s where KLAS often comes in. We provide that reference point where a doctor can come to the KLAS database and look at a wealth of interviews, taken from their peers, and they can see, “Oh, this is the type of experience I can expect across all the categories that I care about”, whether that’s product quality and functionality, whether that’s how well the vendor delivers new technology, or whether that’s service and support. For all these key areas that providers want to understand, we track all that data. So obviously I’m a little bit biased in terms of where I would tell providers to start looking, but getting that type of information is really critical. And so if you’re not going to get it from your peers, then you can definitely come to a place like KLAS where we pull all that information together.

Oleg: As we record this, the number of COVID cases are continuing to increase. Is there anything you think that we need to do better when it comes to handling this pandemic, in terms of how the healthcare system could be improved? What comes to the top of your mind?

Aaron: This is where I feel very much for our systems, because I think unfortunately it’s getting good, clean, accurate information, and that’s a challenge in the society as a whole right now. Regardless of what your opinions or thoughts may be on the media in this country, the truth is it’s hard to get accurate, actionable information that’s not spun to some agenda or hyped this way or that way. That makes it very difficult for healthcare providers to actually respond in a proportionate way, because if you’re reacting to hype or to data that is not accurate then that makes it extremely difficult to formulate an action plan. And I think that the providers in this country have been very challenged by that, whether it’s not getting data or the data that we’re getting is just insufficient because we’re not testing enough. So nobody really knows how many cases we have. There’s a lot of challenges around insufficient data, so as efforts improve, I think they’re able to narrow the focus and come up with better, more actionable responses than what we’ve had.

Oleg: What kind of innovations in technology are you most looking forward to in the next 10 years?

Aaron: I think there’s some exciting things to be seen around artificial intelligence. It hasn’t quite delivered yet, but over the next 10 years, we could see some interesting things happen there that could potentially change the way that patients’ records and information are managed, because once we get some of these more sophisticated means of tracking, charting, capturing information, and then managing an entire patient record across providers, that could be fairly exciting. I think there’s still a ton of ground to be covered in interoperability, data exchange, effective transfer of patient records and across different areas of care. There’s still a lot of progress to be made there.

Precision medicine is also an intriguing area, and I have great anticipation to see what it produces in the next 10 years and how much we can have tangible, measurable outcomes from that.

You can listen to the full episode on On the Health Record podcast here.