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RED HOT Contributors


Episode 16: Healthcare IT Legend – Dr. John Glaser


Dr. John Glaser is the SVP of population health management at Cerner. Prior to this, he was the CEO of Siemens Health Services and the longtime CIO for Partners Healthcare. He’s had more than 33 years in healthcare information technology. And there’s more…

He is a founding chair of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) as well as the past-president for HIMSS, Dr. Glaser has published more than 150 articles on health IT, many of which have been compiled into a book called “Glaser on Health Care IT”


STEVE: “I’d like to talk to you about physician burnout…and tell me about ‘intelligent EHR’ – and how that’s working with physicians into the next phase of healthcare.”

JOHN: “In an era that is emphasizing payment for value, transaction automation is not enough. One has to leverage technology to make decisions…we have to shift from transaction to intelligent orientation.

There is no question there is physician burnout going on. There’s a much more rigorous and onerus medical environment. Burnout is real and has lots of adverse consequences. And Steve, we are seeing the growth in ‘Pajama Time’.

In other words, if you look at a clinician’s use of EHR…and now you see work at 7 to 9 at night. Finishing what they couldn’t get to during the course of the day. In theory you are sitting in your pajamas when you are doing this…and we need to get that time back to doctors and their families.

Now, the patient documentation intelligently adjusts…so instead of clicking a bunch of stuff that doesn’t help, we’re [Cerner’s EHR] going to help focus you on only those things that matter. This should save you time. You can also use tools to help and monitor doctors, to make sure that they are not only using the product – but that when needed, the system can intelligently identify training opportunities.

STEVE: “I did want to reach into population health on the human side – on the consumer side. You have the population management technology…and where does patient engagement come into this? And what is Cerner’s responsibility to help their health system and provider customers to better work through patient engagement?

I see physicians reaching out to patients who may not be engaged and saying, “you don’t understand…you have an opportunity to lower your blood pressure and your cholesterol.” And patients respond in their mind by saying, “YOU don’t understand…I can’t make my rent payment. That’s MORE valuable to me than lowering my cholesterol.”

So, in designing the system and with great technology, you’re a part of driving population health management in health systems. Do you see an importance with Cerner getting involved in this?

JOHN: “It’s a complicated problem and there’s a lot of moving parts we have to sort through. At times the technology will work for certain groups of patients and consumers…and at times it won’t. Sometimes it may be a financial incentive or perhaps competition.

You know, we get all excited about the technology, and the technology is pretty slick and really quite important. But you have to factor in how people actually think.

I teach a course at Wharton, and one of my students was working with a company that took middle-aged men who had a cardiovascular event, and were going through rehab. So part of this was getting patients to submit data and get feedback.

The thing that he found that was the most important in getting the middle-aged patient to comply, was the patient’s belief that the care team cared about him.

And I asked my student, “how did you do that with the technology?” He answered that it wasn’t the technology…they just picked up the phone and called the patient to check in on their status. It was just basic human touch.”

STEVE: “It’s empathy.”

JOHN: Exactly…and we have to attack this [engagement]from multiple vectors. To look at all the processes involved and how it affects things when they change…whether its technological, financial, emotional, etc. And we’re getting these things figured out.”


 I have had the privilege and pleasure of working with Steve Ambrose on a podcast that covered a range of topics in healthcare information technology. The podcast logistics – communications, interview questions, scheduling and production – were every well managed.
A great experience that I would do again in an instance.

Dr. John Glaser
SVP, Population Health at CERNER

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