As we gear up for HIMSS at the end of this month, we tend to think back to who has been dominating the healthcare conversations over the past several years. The answer is obvious: EMR vendors. Meaningful Use guidelines have been driving towards the adoption of EMRs and encouraging clinicians to adopt technologies to enhance patient care. But these tools are transactional, not transformative. For an industry that is cutting edge in so many ways, we’ve struggled to successfully crack the code with informational technology. Customers are constantly telling me that we need to find ways to make the data work for us, to improve healthcare.
As new technologies and the BYOD trend have worked their way into hospitals and health systems, we’ve begun to find patterns in what is necessary to launch successful programs. The key? Ease of use for clinicians and clear benefits to patient care.
To reap the rewards informational technology has to offer, clinicians are exploring the potential of their various devices in the workplace. These different tools need the same things: compelling and safe user interfaces that offer an easily managed experience. Clinicians need access to information anytime and anyplace to address questions and make clinical decisions. At the same time, while we may agree that tablets are not just a fad, that desktop dominating your desk space still remains the major player in day-to-day care. The enhanced, slick experiences that vendors are providing for mobile apps need to be reflected in desktop offerings as well to satisfy users.
Additionally, patient care is not handled by one doctor alone. Care teams need to be able to coordinate and collaborate. The full care team should be able to connect on clinical issues in whatever way they choose, while still having access to all of the same clinical data in near real-time. From the cardiologist to the nurse, from the office to the bedside, communication should be clear and consistent to address patient needs.
Delays in these developments and concerns around privacy or security have held up the healthcare industry’s advancement in many ways, but the promise is out there. When vendors and health systems put the patient first and look at how coordination and access to insightful, actionable data can improve quality of care and patient satisfaction, we can move beyond IT issues to truly transform care.
Neil Jordan is the general manager of Health for Microsoft Worldwide Public Sector. In this role, Jordan acts as chief strategist for the organization’s health industry initiatives worldwide, including defining and articulating the Microsoft vision for the future of healthcare and how Microsoft products, technologies and partner solutions will make it a reality.