The HIMSS Value STEPSTM model has become an effective approach for cataloguing the various expressions of the positive benefits (value) healthcare providers and provider organizations realize from their use of health IT. Leveraging this model, HIMSS has created a searchable database reflecting hundreds of examples of hospitals, physician practices, communities and accountable care organizations realizing the value of health IT. With so many examples to pull from, though, it’s easy to lose sight of the “forest for the trees.” Therefore, HIMSS is launching a series of research studies to identify and explore the generalized “themes” contained within each of the pillars of the HIMSS Value STEPS framework.
The findings for these studies are based on the summary descriptions of each value example entered into the Value Suite database. By taking these descriptions and entering the text into a “word cloud” generator, we produced visuals reflecting the most frequently used words in the value descriptions. We then offer simple observations of the word clouds, leading us to suggest potential value themes. Given variances in the adoption and use of health IT in various healthcare settings, we decided to analyze “themes” by the following organizational types:
- Hospital-based organizations
- Clinics/physician offices
- Other types of healthcare organizations (home health agencies; information exchange organizations; etc.)
Our first word cloud study in this series focuses on the impact of health IT on satisfaction. Satisfaction as a value of health IT is important to address, because healthcare is so intimately tied to the passions people (albeit patients or providers) express around the delivery of care. With health IT such a disruptor to the way patients receive and providers deliver care, it is not surprising that over 900 “satisfaction” examples are contained within the Value Suite database.
Below are the word clouds we generated for the three provider settings studied:
A few simple thematic observations jump out when looking at these three word clouds:
- PATIENT satisfaction evidence is the dominant form of satisfaction evidence surrounding health IT contained in the Value Collection
The most dominant word emerging in all three word clouds was “patients.” This finding suggests that those reporting on the positive impact of health IT on satisfaction tended to center their focus on evidence involving patients. While health IT was associated with other stakeholder groups (e.g. physicians, staff), patient satisfaction clearly dominates the focus of organizations at this point in time.
- PHYSICIAN satisfaction is the next most frequently cited evidence
While patient satisfaction emerged as the dominate theme in all three organizations, physician satisfaction surfaced as the next, most frequently (albeit more moderated) stakeholder group cited in the Value Suite database. As users of the technology, physicians are a significant constituency health IT leaders need to assuage. Unfortunately, too many health IT implementations have gone “wheels off,” because leaders did not pay enough attention to the needs of physicians. The evidence in this word cloud study suggests physician satisfaction with health IT is available, it is just morphed in comparison to the evidence surrounding patient satisfaction.
- Evidence involving STAFF satisfaction surrounding is secondary to patients and physicians
Staff members, like physicians, represent a significant user stakeholder group impacted by health IT. Yet, the evidence uncovered by the Value Suite research team relating to staff satisfaction is limited. This is not to suggest that healthcare workers are less satisfied with health IT. It does suggest, though, that those reporting on the impact of health IT on stakeholder satisfaction tend to be less focused on publically communicating the benefit for health workers than they are with other stakeholder groups. If true, this is a story which arguably needs to be told.
- The degree to which PATIENT and PHYSICIAN satisfaction evidence is manifest varies by organization type
Though evidence involving PATIENT satisfaction is the most frequently cited word in all three healthcare settings, the focus on this stakeholder group is much pronounced in “hospital” and “other healthcare organizations” than in the “clinic/physician office” environment. Indeed, the amount of evidence involving PHYSICIAN satisfaction is about as plentiful as the evidence surrounding PATIENT satisfaction.
Admittedly, creating and interpreting word clouds can be a fun exercise for a research geek like me. But the effort can be an exercise in futility if there is no application (or SO WHAT) to the findings. Fortunately, I believe there is a significant story emerging from these words:
During a time when healthcare organizations have been aggressively pursuing efforts to advance health IT capabilities, organizations have largely focused on communicating the value of these efforts by highlighting the positive impact the technologies have on the patients they serve. Efforts to tell the story surrounding the benefits to clinical users (albeit physicians and staff) seem secondary.
If one accepts the above “story,” then it raises the question how impactful these efforts are in advancing the adoption of health IT. The reality is that health IT tools have been disruptive to the traditional workflow of clinicians, and clinicians have been challenged at times to enthusiastically embrace these tools. There is a need then to highlight stories of how these tools have positively supported those whose practice have been impacted by health IT.
Sitting here as we are in the midst of yet another National Health IT Week, perhaps it’s time to refocus our efforts on telling stories surrounding the benefits if health IT to clinicians. Or better yet, publish your story around the positive impact health IT has had on the clinicians in your organization, and let us know so we can include it in our Value Suite database.
Explore the many SATISFACTION (and other value) stories in the Value Suite database