Mobile solutions that support our clinical (and life) workflow

There are more mobile devices than there are people on the planet. Many of us look at our phones more than 70 times a day. We bring them with us everywhere we go – to the movies, to our children’s soccer games and to work.

Many of us even have work environments that allow us to ‘bring your own device.’ If that is not an option, our work devices (thankfully!) are looking more and more like our personal devices. And in healthcare, we are now successfully addressing challenges to building mobile healthcare solutions that support our natural use and knowledge of these devices in our life flow.

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The Evolution of Health IT

Health IT is often considered a silent partner in healthcare – not seen by patients, but a critical part of the system. As we celebrate National Health IT Week, it’s important to realize that although health IT already has a long history, the constant and rapid evolution of this space continues to transform the market. Information has been collected and stored for years, but the promise of clinical decision support has us at the cusp of all this information becoming valuable in new and innovative ways.

Just a decade ago, I was documenting patient encounters in paper charts. Although the transition to electronic medical records (EMRs) has been perceived as slow, in the grand scheme of medicine it actually happened almost overnight. These systems were not designed with our continuously changing workflow in mind, with user interfaces and workflows that aligned to our practices. They served as repositories for patient information, but did little else. In fact, our workflow changed to support the EMR, sometimes to the detriment of the patient. Instead of focusing directly on the patient, we often must split our time and attention between the patient and the computer terminal.

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Staying Ahead in a Technology-Driven Field

Since patient care and well-being is at the center of Rockdale’s mission, attracting the best and brightest clinicians in the region is an important effort for us. Part of distinguishing ourselves from our competitors is providing the resources and advanced technological support clinicians want. In fact, to support this shift, we formed the Information Technology Physician Engagement Group in 2013 to identify exactly what were the technology priorities for our physicians:

  • Improved cellular service
  • Improved physician Wi-Fi
  • Single sign-on access
  • Mobile technology for better efficiency

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Cerner/Siemens and Blue Shield/Blue Cross: What Happens Next?

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The industry is buzzing over the news that Cerner is buying the health information technology business unit of Siemens. The Siemens acquisition is the most recent high-profile example of consolidation that is taking place in all sectors of healthcare.

The consolidation trend is not new, of course. Providers reacted first, by aligning as Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and clinical integration (CI) networks during the past five years. Then the passing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) accelerated the need for collaboration, forcing providers to acquire additional acute care and post-acute care facilities as well as physicians’ offices. This consolidation trend was the first to expose the obvious lack of interoperability amongst vendors.

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Supporting OB with Mobility

The Labor and Delivery department does not boast the most structured of schedules – each mom-to-be’s delivery timeline varies. Obstetricians may have to rush to the hospital for an advanced case, or wait and watch for conditions to change. In either situation, the clinician is frequently not on-site at the hospital, whether it’s because they’re handling office visits at their practices, or because it’s the middle of the night. Having mobile access to patient data to monitor progress provides doctors with the confidence necessary to make care decisions no matter the time or their location.

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Healthcare on the Potomac

100913_capitol_hill_ap_328I’ve recently had the opportunity to travel to our nation’s capital a couple of times through our relationships with trade associations (The App Association [ACT], an international software advocacy and educational organization) and partners such as athenahealth. These are always whirlwind days, packed with meetings with Congressional staffers, members of the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) and regulators from the FDA, FCC and others.

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Caring for Kids in the CVICU

ImageAs a pediatric cardiac intensivist, I start each morning by doing my rounds in the cardiovascular intensive care unit (CVICU) at the Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham. It doesn’t sound out of the norm, except every other week I’m handling it from 500 miles away at my home office in St. Louis, Missouri from an app on my phone. While I spend the other weeks in Birmingham on-site at the hospital, technology has given me the flexibility to live remotely while still ensuring the highest level of care for my patients.

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