What makes a hospital great? Each year, a variety of industry lists designate which hospitals are ‘the best,’ including U.S. News & World Report rankings, CMS star ratings, Leapfrog grades and Truven Health Analytics. While many of these rankings use important metrics such as excellence in clinical care, patient outcomes and physician satisfaction, they often fail to recognize the intangible piece of what it truly takes to make a great hospital – culture. Great hospitals embrace foundational values that support day-to-day operations and encourage innovative ideas for continuous improvement.
This week marks National Nurses Week in the U.S., both a celebration of the profession and an opportunity to educate the public about the role nurses play in healthcare and their communities. This year’s theme of “Nurses: Inspire, Innovate, Influence” highlights three concepts that overlap and reflect the innate role nurses play in patient care, as well as drawing attention to the personality types often drawn to nursing.
Driving toward value-based care first requires a healthy understanding of the environment in which we are operating. Though regularly criticized, the U.S. healthcare system is actually strong: we have some of the world’s best hospitals and doctors. Individual service lines can provide attentive and effective care, whether it is cardiology, endocrinology or oncology.
However, we are falling short by failing to pull these service lines together. That is where the challenge lies. By focusing on wellness, we have the capability to deliver collaborative care and truly transformative outcomes.
The number of quality initiatives is rapidly rising in the healthcare industry as stakeholders shift their focus toward the value of patient care. In addition, with the recent implementation of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), the rules surrounding healthcare reimbursement are being rewritten, incentivizing healthcare providers to prioritize the quality of patient visits over the quantity.
Historically, it has been difficult to achieve consensus on defining quality; therefore, it was not consistently measured. MACRA provides tools to assess quality of care, and lays the foundation for a future in which payers and providers must collaborate in new ways driven by patient data.
Most physicians have long enjoyed the benefits of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies. As health systems focused on ensuring doctors had access to state-of-the-art health IT to monitor their patients when they couldn’t be at the bedside, the quality of tools and pace of adoption for nursing solutions did not keep up. In some situations, nurses received bulky phones that could only be used within the walls of the hospital, while physicians needed to download specific apps on their own devices to receive calls from the nurses’ devices. Technical difficulties were frequent. In other situations, health systems tried rolling out solutions to nurses that had been used successfully by physicians. Unfortunately, those solutions were not always conducive to nurses’ workflow.
As we celebrate National Health IT Week, it is incredible to realize how health technology tools are transforming every facet of patient care. From telehealth, to 3D printers to artificial intelligence, the explosion of personalized health devices redefines the dynamics of patient treatment and interactions.
However, we still fall short in comparison to other industries, particularly in terms of consistent patient information access, and the lack of incentive for industry collaboration to achieve smooth, interoperable data transfers. This week, we strike a balance between applauding our progress, yet refusing to rest on our laurels.
For over a year, the US has spent much of its time wondering who would be the next Commander-in-Chief, and what the implications would be with a Hillary Clinton or a Donald Trump presidency. Now that we have our answer – that Donald Trump will be leading the nation for at least the next four years – people across all industries are wondering how a new administration will impact their business.
What exactly will this new administration mean for healthcare IT? The space is relatively bipartisan. People on both sides of the aisle realize that technology can enable better patient care in a cost-effective way and has the ability to be far-reaching, providing better care options to those in rural areas. But there’s no doubt that the most recent election will drive some changes in 2017.
As the chief innovation officer of Carle Foundation Hospital, my primary responsibility is to find the best cutting-edge technology to help alleviate our physicians’ biggest pain points. This can seem like a daunting task considering the sheer quantity of technologies being produced by innovative vendors to improve the healthcare industry. I often get asked to define the ‘magic’ behind making the right decision. Ultimately, you simply have to start somewhere. With the trust of leadership and the direct involvement of our system’s physicians, I’ve determined my own process to cut through the noise and find success.
At this year’s annual HIMSS conference, a common topic of discussion was around how to continue to bring the technological and medical aspects of healthcare together to evolve, grow and support one another.
Each semester, I share with my Health IT students the many reasons that it is such an exciting time to be in healthcare. As we transition from a volume-based to a value-based incentive model, healthcare is going to look significantly different by 2020. This transformation is no longer a wish, it is no longer an option; it is our collective future. People who were previously one-foot-in and one-foot-out will be fully planted in the value-based healthcare model.
Non-stress tests (NSTs) are the current standard of care for monitoring high-risk pregnancies. Intended to reduce the risk of stillbirths, these tests are for those who have one or more risk factors, whether they be maternal, fetal or obstetric complications.
Currently, these tests can be very time-consuming for patients. NSTs involve attaching the mother to fetal and contraction monitors to watch the fetal heart rate tracing and uterine activity. However, many rural and remote areas don’t have ready access to NSTs. Consequently, mothers sometimes travel up to several hours each way to get to our facility for their NST appointments once or twice a week. Once they arrive, there’s the usual wait time, the 30-60 minute testing process, plus an additional wait time for the test to be interpreted by a staff member and a clinician. These appointments, on top of any additional prenatal visits the mothers have scheduled, can therefore add up to a considerable amount of time, even for patients who live nearby.