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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Supporting OB with Mobility

The Labor and Delivery department does not boast the most structured of schedules – each mom-to-be’s delivery timeline varies. Obstetricians may have to rush to the hospital for an advanced case, or wait and watch for conditions to change. In either situation, the clinician is frequently not on-site at the hospital, whether it’s because they’re handling office visits at their practices, or because it’s the middle of the night. Having mobile access to patient data to monitor progress provides doctors with the confidence necessary to make care decisions no matter the time or their location.

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Caring for Kids in the CVICU

ImageAs a pediatric cardiac intensivist, I start each morning by doing my rounds in the cardiovascular intensive care unit (CVICU) at the Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham. It doesn’t sound out of the norm, except every other week I’m handling it from 500 miles away at my home office in St. Louis, Missouri from an app on my phone. While I spend the other weeks in Birmingham on-site at the hospital, technology has given me the flexibility to live remotely while still ensuring the highest level of care for my patients.

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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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Personal Health Technologies Help to Answer the $4.6 Trillion Dollar Question

Below is a guest blog post from Eric Dis1hman, Intel Fellow and General Manager of the Intel Health & Life Sciences Group. If you will be at HIMSS14, be sure to attend his educational session (#74) on Tuesday, Feb. 25, at 10 a.m. in Room #320. During his talk, Eric will share his own experience battling cancer and the lessons he learned about the importance of a customized care treatment plan. You will also hear about the future of genomics and personalized medicine. Find out more information and read the latest blog posts on health IT in the Intel Health and Life Sciences Community.

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Looking to 2014: Taking Healthcare to Task

2014-predictions-300x300All the mainstream chatter and media coverage around healthcare this year covers up the fact that there is little real action and few success stories to point to. Expect 2014 to be the year that the industry gets taken to task on several key issues:

  • On risk – The big headline is going to be the relative lack of traction for risk-based models. For all the talk about the benefits, the incentive is still in place for hospital systems to continue to leverage or create structural advantage in marketplaces – allowing them to pass along rates to payers and protect margins. This shift in models will not happen until hospitals and health systems have maxed out their OPEX savings and consumers are outraged enough with insurance costs to run to Kaiser-like models. Continue reading