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Humanity First, Tech Second, Says HIMSS18 Speaker


Tech can do great things in health care, but it can also lead to a failure in communication.

Welcome to the Physicians Practice Pearls Podcast. In this podcast, we'll aim to bring you some of the most interesting, influential guests in the healthcare industry. If you have any ideas for podcast guests or topics, shoot us an email at

Someone is going to speak in front of an audience at the annual Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference to downplay the importance of technology.

Well, sort of.

Heather Hansen, a communication consultant and partner at the O'Brien and Ryan law firm in the Philadelphia area, doesn’t have anything against health IT. But she will emphasize the importance of "humanity first, technology second" at HIMSS18, held in Las Vegas. Hansen will be a speaker in a session titled, "Lessons from Lawsuits: How to Use Health IT to Avoid Being Sued and Improve Healthcare Teams," scheduled for 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, March 6.

Hansen joined the podcast to preview this session. She'll focus on how technology has failed in getting clinicians to communicate better with patients and each other. She says this failure to communicate has led to a wave of lawsuits against providers.

"I want to get across the message with this audience that technology is great as long as you put humanity first, and making sure we focus on humanity when we're using technology with our patients," she says. Technology, Hansen notes, cannot ensure patients are adhering to treatment plans and getting the right care. "Someone is 34 times more likely to say ‘yes’ to a request if you say it in person, rather than on email."

Later in the podcast, Hansen talks about the increasing role technology has played in malpractice lawsuits. Anecdotally, she says, almost every case she's seen recently related to malpractice has  both a communication element and an EHR element.

"I'm seeing mistakes that may be inherent in the [EHR] system itself is coming back to perhaps hurt the doctor," she says.

Click above to play the entire podcast.

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