Harnessing the Power of Big Data with Digital Health Partnerships

KWard_dataIn today’s digital world, electronic patient data is growing exponentially and moving faster than healthcare organizations can imagine.  At the same time, clinicians suffer from information overload, and high-volume and increasingly complex clinical patient loads, alongside dwindling time and resources.

Now more than ever, the pressure is building to harness the power of big data and digital technologies to help clinicians make faster, patient-centric decisions that increase quality of care and enhance health outcomes all while decreasing costs.

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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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Data-Driven Evaluation of Mobility’s Impact

nextgov-mediumHealthcare is rapidly evolving, and more than ever, hospitals are under extreme pressure to continuously identify ways to improve performance and justify every expense. In this type of environment, technological innovation alone will not prove sufficient. Instead, making sure technology is successfully implemented and processes are streamlined to ensure adoption and maximize value becomes the currency of improvement.

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HIMSS14: Refocusing on Priorities

1962708_10153879601805578_131583758_nThis week marks my 22nd HIMSS Conference. Each year, the industry comes together to highlight our latest and greatest achievements, discuss how to overcome the latest regulatory challenges and, in general, brainstorm how to improve healthcare. After two decades, we’re still working out this last part. There’s no easy solution to this, but I think there are two key pieces we should be focusing on – not just this week, but as the industry continues to evolve.

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Putting the User First

ImageBringing mobility into clinical practice across the care continuum is an integral part of improving care, reducing readmissions and increasing patient engagement and satisfaction. From giving clinicians outside the hospital access to patient data so clinical decision making isn’t delayed, to addressing patient needs at home to avoid an emergency room or office visit, mobility offers the flexibility to meet today’s healthcare demands. For both the clinician and the patient, user experience is a critical factor that determines the success of a mobile strategy.

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The Key to Success: Maximizing Information Technology

mitcon-photo01fullAs 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.

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