Health IT Thought Leader Highlight: Girish Navani, CEO, eClinicalWorks

Girish Navani
Girish Navani

Girish Navani is CEO and co-founder of eClinicalWorks, an electronic health record company exceeding in the B2B field since 1999. Under the leadership and foresight of Navani, the company is expanding its services to B2C with the launch of healow – an app for patients to easily find new doctors, schedule appointments online and access their personal health records.

Here, Navani speaks about his path to eClinicalWorks, he offers his expert insight on EHRs and their benefits to healthcare, and he speak of likely trends that will continue to change the healthcare landscape.

Tell me your story. About how you got here, how you developed your technology and the reasoning for a private company set up?

We wanted to use technology as a way to completely transform the healthcare delivery model to streamline processes, prevent errors and provide easily accessible information to both providers and patients. Not only was our primary goal to make doctors’ jobs easier by providing them with a way to operate more efficiently, but we also wanted to improve the patient experience.

I’m a strong believer in keeping my company private and concentrating on building a solid product. Selling shares and depending on investors means that they will always have a say in how we conduct our business. We use our profits to continue building our company and our products.

What about the leadership inside the company? Is it true the no employees have titles? What’s the reasoning?

I have an open-door policy, which allows the opportunity for anybody to approach me to ask questions and brainstorm ideas. Over time, I’ve learned to listen more. I’m okay with second guessing my own decisions and receiving feedback from my colleagues, even if what they say is “no.”

Yes, our employees do not have titles, but instead, the whole company is team-based with team leaders being the only leadership position. Employees’ careers grow with bigger projects. I think titles are self-fulfilling and short-term objectives that people quickly get tired of. With a team-based structure, employees can work together to achieve successful results instead of individuals striving for the next title.

What drew you to healthcare? Why does it stand out for you?

I have always worked in technology, and in 1999, I heard a lecture in Geneva about using wireless computing in healthcare and the idea of “connected healthcare” really stuck with me. I loved the idea of a doctor and patient sitting in the doctor’s office reviewing charts on a tablet instead of pieces of paper, so I wanted to build a technology that connects all parties involved in healthcare, including the doctor, patient and insurance company.

What do you like best about the sector? The worst?

From a technology adoption standpoint, healthcare seemed to be behind many other industries. For example, when was the last time you handled your banking with paper forms? Many of the systems that were in place are unable to talk with others, causing duplication of work, at best. For me, this creates a challenge and opportunity. We have a real chance to make healthcare better, faster and cheaper and the improvements that we collectively make can have a true impact on people.

What do you see in the future of the health IT industry? What about meaningful use, ICD-10, telehealth?

Now that the majority of physician practices are digitizing health records, the real benefits and implications of that step are available to us. All the information and data will be feeding into each other and we can start coming up with actionable decisions that could improve patient outcomes. Most population health and patient engagement initiatives cannot happen without patient information being digital.

Telehealth will be a disruptive force in healthcare delivery and will experience a rapid rise now that policy is catching up with technology. Having patients able to access their doctors via their mobile phones, enables them to immediately address medical concerns at their convenience.

Another concept that has positive implications for healthcare is the integration of wearables with a doctor’s EHR. If you have a FitBit, Wingscale or comparable device, data from this will automatically be uploaded to your PHR and shared with your doctor, if you allow it permission. Giving your physician a better informed idea of your activities throughout the year can dramatically improve recommendations and outcomes.

There are several advances on the horizon. The key is to have the doctor involved with patient-facing tools. People trust their doctor, so a medical provider needs to be tied in.

How has the use of EHRs changed the healthcare industry? How is this form of technology beneficial to both patients and providers?

Electronic health records have changed the healthcare industry by keeping health information all in one place, regardless of whether it’s information from the patient’s primary physician or from a specialist they’ve seen to treat a specific condition. This form of technology benefits the doctors and office staff by helping them to operate quickly and more efficiently, as they are able to access the patient’s information from one portal. If the doctor’s office is operating smoothly and efficiently, this helps to improve the patient experience. Additionally, patients are able to access their patient information from one place, with the hopes that this access will encourage patients to further engage in their health. EHRs are the stepping stone for many new programs. Information from mHealth apps and wearables can be fed into EHRs to help doctors learn more about a patient’s health.

What challenges do you think the healthcare industry faces as it continues to become more and more digitalized? Which challenge do you think will go away?

Transparency of cost is a significant challenge in the industry today. Most people today have no idea that the same MRI or lab test costs significantly more at one location than another and it is difficult to find that information. Having price transparency could help costs become more consistent between facilities and get people to initiate a dialogue. Medicare has begun releasing medical costs and I hope others follow suit so patients can make more informed decisions about their care.

What is the future of eClinicalWorks and healow?

For 2015, we are focused on innovation for all areas of our business – electronic health records, revenue cycle management, population health and patient engagement. As part of this, we are working with major wearable manufacturers to integrate data from a patient’s wearable device into the healow platform, which will feed into the electronic health record, so doctors are able to have insight into a patient’s activities outside of appointments. This will enable doctors to have access to more comprehensive health information, which will help them provide better care.

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