Three Rules To Follow When Building Technology For Doctors

I’ve spent the last 25-plus years working at the intersection of healthcare and technology. As Chief Clinical Informatics Officer at Clover Health, I strive every day to ensure cutting-edge technology is applied in ways that enhance clinical work, improve patient care and ultimately enable more people to live healthier, happier lives. Since I’m also a practicing physician, I have a personal stake in this work. Like my peers across all medical specialties, I want technology products and platforms that strengthen — not distract from — my ability to provide the best care to my patients. 

The past year has stretched physicians even thinner and forced rapid changes in how we provide care. In March 2020, offices closed and doctors moved quickly to telehealth. Despite these efforts, physicians witnessed increased excess mortality rates due to Covid-19, non-Covid-19 acute events and poorer management of chronic conditions. Countless patients are facing worse health outcomes after a year of not seeing their doctors, and commonly used healthcare technologies are poorly designed to address this gap.

Healthcare delivery and practice, in spite of significant consolidation over the past decade, remain local phenomena. We’ve made great strides in making health information electronic and computable — imagine just over a decade ago, we were pushing for the adoption of electronic health record systems and for doctors to stop using paper charts. Unfortunately, those systems were built to bill and document, rather than support high-quality care. Now is the time to revisit how technology can support the quadruple aim of higher quality, lower costs, better outcomes and better provider satisfaction.


Remember that the “last mile” is the interaction between a healthcare provider and a patient. While automation can improve data collection, remove redundancy and improve efficiency, it cannot replace clinical care. 

Here are three rules I believe companies should follow when designing technology for doctors.

1. Prioritize physicians' clinical judgment.

Physicians play the central role in healthcare delivery. We’re trained to look at complex cases and recommend treatments and care protocols that we believe are best for our patients, based on their preferences and the facts in front of us. While technology can help us make the best decisions, it should not make those decisions for us. 

Take IBM Watson, once touted as “the best doctor in the world.” The AI-based program was supposed to be smarter than doctors, but for all its brilliance, it lacked the