Reflecting on IT’s Transformation of Healthcare

health it week pictureAs 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.

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Telehealth Brings Non-Stress Tests to the Home

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.

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The Healthcare Dinner Party

WineIt may not be obvious, but the healthcare industry has been preparing for an enormous dinner party. Over the last several years, innovation vendors like AirStrip have been adding ingredients to our fridges and pantries based on numerous requests from customers. Metaphorically, this would be just about anything you can imagine that will transform clinical collaboration. At this point, companies can support a wide variety of different use cases across the continuum of care. However, the next phase is for healthcare industry to sit down at the table since it has been set up already for the big dinner party. The table and the settings are the EMRs, EHRs, medical device companies, among others. If we keep replacing them we will starve to death. Now, we need to spend more time figuring out what exactly the healthcare providers are trying to cook – getting to know their specific use cases by clinical service lines and working backwards with the ingredients that already exist, rather than waiting for food to appear magically at the table.

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Future of Health Care: Keeping the Patients in Mind

imagesThe key to successful health care technology is making sure it improves both the patient experience and the quality of care. While technology is sometimes seen as a barrier to human connection and interaction, the right tools can transform the health care experience for the patient. At Dignity Health, our focus for 2015 is centered on making population health a reality by looking toward the ambulatory side of care. The mobility strategy we put in place in 2014 is enabling us to empower our providers and care teams with telehealth solutions so they can have alternate ways to connect with and care for their patients.

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