A Physician’s Perspective: Bridging the EHR, Healthcare IT, and the PAC (Physician Advisory Committee)

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By CereCore | Apr 14, 2023

3 minute read MEDITECH| EHR/EMR| Blog| Client Perspectives

Step into the shoes of L. Austin Fredrickson, MD, an internal medicine physician at Salem Regional Medical Center whose outpatient practice recently navigated an EMR transition to MEDITECH Expanse.  

Dr. Fredrickson sat down with Phil Sobol, vice president of business development and host of The CereCore Podcast and explained how he uses healthcare technology, what the EHR implementation process was like for him, the state of telemedicine and rural healthcare, ideas to improve physician engagement and ways the Physician Advisory Committee (PAC) could help foster strong relationships among physicians and executive leaders. 

A peek into PAC  

As an active member of the Physician Advisory Committee (PAC), Dr. Fredrickson explains why it’s often difficult for physicians to be fully engaged when it comes to PAC meetings. In the podcast interview, he shares simple ways that administrative and project management teams could make it easier for physicians to participate. 

Dr. Fredrickson said, “Marrying, as we did in the PAC, somebody who is in the trenches with someone who's on the sidelines or in the C suite is so important for each of these conversations. Things that make complete sense to the C suite are so detrimental to those of us in the trenches. I can think of 50 examples off the top of my head where there was a disconnect between what was intended versus the actual issue.” 

Getting your head around the physician workflow 

Dr. Fredrickson believes that when the MEDITECH Expanse EHR is built with the physician workflow in mind that the work put in upfront can save time in the long run and help get physicians home sooner.  

Getting to that optimal point means asking physicians the right questions during the build phase, walking around together to fully understand what a physician needs, and staying focused on the patient. 

Understanding how physicians worked in the old system and trying to help them know how to accomplish that work in the new system is huge.  

Dr. Fredrickson explained, “What can we do if we've relied for years on pop-ups to tell us—Hey, by the way, make sure we order an annual lung CT screening. How do we convert that? How do we find that information? Because it changes the way that we think as clinicians if we rely on tools that either aren't there or changed in shape. And so, a lot of our medication management, the way we approach flow sheets, the way we approach some of our internal processes, weren’t just how to do it in MEDITECH. But it was, how were you doing it? And are you missing something cognitively in that bridge.” 

Final words from physician to IT professionals everywhere 

When asked what advice he had for healthcare IT professionals, Dr. Fredrickson explains what it’s like to be a physician and the EMR is getting in the way of a most basic task like ordering crutches for a patient. 

“It's so easy to distance with negativity, specifically on physicians, because they're nasty to deal with,” said Dr. Fredrickson. “They call, they complain. You're not allowed to yell back at them, and they get more leniency than the IT world does, and that's not fair. A lot of that's driven from frustration and stresses beyond the physician's control.” 

He goes on to explain more and his perspective and poignant advice will prick the heart of any healthcare IT professional. 

“There was a CEO I had at one time that said your job is either to take care of our patients or is to take care of the people who are taking care of the patients. Remembering that for IT is so helpful,” said Dr. Fredrickson. 

If I were in charge for a day... 

The conversation wraps up as Dr. Fredrickson shares his thoughts on the final question: do we keep the PAC going in perpetuity? Is there another way? 

Listen to the podcast for his full answer and ideas that he’s shared with Salem Regional Medical Center. 


Dr. Fredrickson believes that anytime you engage physicians, whether it’s on the PAC or implementation training, servant leadership and walking the halls with a physician will go far in helping leaders and IT professionals learn more about what physicians really need when it comes to healthcare IT.  

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