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.
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.
In 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.
Making quick decisions is important when it comes to cardiology patients – particularly when patient conditions unexpectedly change in the ER or overnight when access to a cardiologist is more limited. Since quality care does not end when the physician leaves the bedside, having the latest and most relevant data easily accessible no matter where the cardiologist is can be critical.
In recent years, cardiologists have relied on faxed or texted pictures of an ECG to help them make decisions, or even other staff members’ verbal descriptions of what they see on the readout. But the quality of this information is inadequate. By the time a fax is sent, it’s outdated. Zooming capabilities for texted images can only do so much. And – though we credit all of our staff for their knowledge – cardiology is a specialty and these doctors may see something on an ECG that might be missed in a verbal update.