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.

Continue reading

Putting Patients at the Heart of the Cardiology Service Line

shutterstock_120955669-390x285Mobility is essential to cardiac physicians. They don’t sit behind a desk all day, but rather are moving back and forth between their clinic, their office and around the hospital. Mobile health products allow cardiac physicians to maintain their access to critical clinical data even while in motion. Accessing data on a handheld device regardless of location is transformational, as it means the cardiac physician doesn’t need to be at the patient bedside to make a timely care decision.

However, mobility in the cardiology service line isn’t ultimately about cardiac physicians – it’s about the patient. When we think about the cardiology service line, we don’t think about the cardiology specialty – we think about a patient with a heart condition. But it’s also important that we look beyond the heart to view our patients comprehensively. Does the patient have any other conditions? What medications are we prescribing?

Continue reading

The Partner Approach to Implementing Change

imagesTechnology is created and designed to make life simpler. For physicians, mobile technology offers the ability to review data more immediately and conveniently. It also helps provide the patient with better, more holistic care. All sounds great, right?

Almost.

Implementing any change in an organization is tricky. It requires effort from all parties involved to transform the “new thing” into “the norm.” Physicians need to see the value of the solution and be encouraged to use it regularly. The vendor needs to tweak its solutions to meet the needs and expectations of the customer. And the customer needs to adopt new workflows to support the technology. It’s a cycle of trust, encouragement and adjustment.

Continue reading

Microsoft Takes the Stage at Health 2.0

ImageThe healthcare industry is rapidly evolving; at the same time the cost of many smartphones and tablets is poised to dramatically decrease. Case in point: the purchase of Nokia by Microsoft with a plan to develop very powerful and inexpensive devices. In the next 12 to 18 months, we’re going to see a huge increase in tablet and smartphone utilization because of price reductions.

The changes in the mobile technology market are going to span industries, including healthcare. The industry is increasingly mobile, and getting the data to physicians anytime, anywhere is critical. The commoditization of the smartphone and tablet market means that hospitals and health systems have lower cost options to provide hospitalists – who account for a large portion of the physician staff and hospital admissions – with the devices they need to provide care across the continuum. In addition, the “bring your own device” trend is here to stay, especially as the cost of tablets and smartphones declines.

Continue reading

What’s Critical to Critical Care

CriticalCare_4cThe ICU and its workforce play a central role in health systems’ – and patients’ – overall health, with the department accounting for 10 percent of total in-patient beds and 30 percent of in-patient costs. Six million Americans are admitted to the ICU each year. At the same time, critical care is taking a big hit from the physician shortage, with a projected short-fall of up to 22 percent by 2020. Compounding this, ICUs are facing increased cost pressure and scrutiny with regard to patient safety and quality. In ICUs, serious errors occur in 150 of every 1,000 patients and adverse events occur in 81 out of every 1,000 patients.

Continue reading

Old is the New “New” – Engaging Physicians Through Mobility

ImageAs incentives increasingly align between physicians and hospitals for value-based care delivery, health system CMOs face an interesting challenge. The last one to two decades witnessed an extraordinary push to hyper-specialization and compartmentalization of care.

Physicians migrated from round-the-clock response to their personal patients to team call coverage models, and patients were handed over to hospitalists when admitted. Drivers for this shift included financial, efficiency, lifestyle and quality factors. Now, risk-based models are aligning incentives for greater care continuity by physicians for their patients both in and out of the hospital. In many ways, CMOs are asking for an old school approach to meet quality and cost goals. Providing innovative tools can help achieve this – systems can engage physicians for greater continuity while protecting lifestyle and workflow preferences, and mobility solutions will play a key role. Continue reading

Bringing Mobile Capabilities to the…Desktop?

ImageThe demand for patient-centric tools to mobilize EMR and medical device data in a single viewer is obvious. All the major providers I talk to, including Dignity Health and Ardent Health, already have a plan to go mobile. But now it’s time to put practical plans in place to implement the strategy.

The best way to go mobile is to support all form factors. In parallel with mHealth implementation, providers should bring the look and feel (i.e. touchscreens) of mobile technologies to physicians’ desktops and laptops. After all, that’s what they are still primarily using when they are not on the go.

Continue reading

Healthcare in the Heartland

Affordable-Care-ActWhen I’m not heads down in data points on how hospitals around the country are going mobile, I spend time volunteering as a clinician with the Rural Health Clinic of the Cumberlands, a free clinic for the underserved community in my neighborhood in Cumberland County, Tennessee. So, the challenges facing rural hospitals and health systems today are both a professional and personal interest of mine.

Today, the majority of STEMI patients – up to 80 percent – are unable to get to a STEMI receiving hospital within 60 minutes. The country’s rural healthcare facilities are critical to delivering care to a number of underserved communities. But with nearly 40 million new patients entering the system under the Affordable Care Act, and smaller community facilities under threat of acquisition by larger health systems, it’s time for rural hospitals to go on the offensive.

Continue reading

2013 Predictions: Healthcare’s Five Biggest Moves in the Year Ahead

Crystal ballHealthcare may have had an impressive 2012, but the year ahead is going to be an even wilder ride. Obamacare will start ushering 38 million newly insured patients into the system, while we face a shortage of caregivers and primary care physicians. Health systems will continue to buy physicians groups, test out new accountable care and pay for performance models, and try to avoid getting their hands slapped on readmissions and other quality measures. Healthcare IT will continue to both empower and stifle clinicians. It all sounds like a tall order, but from where I sit, we’re also going to see some really positive and exciting moves in 2013:

Continue reading