During National Health IT Week, champions from across the industry are uniting to share their voices on how health IT is catalyzing change in U.S. healthcare. The following post from a National Health IT Week Partner is one of the many perspectives of how information and technology is transforming health in America.
Each year, National Health IT Week provides us with an opportunity to celebrate digital health innovation and reflect on the progress made toward leveraging technology to improve patient care.
Enhancing care and the overall patient experience are complex tasks in an ever-changing healthcare environment. The recent shift to value-based care has only increased the pressure for healthcare organizations to turn up the dial and provide high quality, effective care. So how do we make that happen?
There is a wide range of truly innovative health IT currently on the market. From biosensors and advanced remote monitoring technology to predictive analytics solutions and virtual assistants, the array of technology is dizzying.
Hospitals can leverage these tools in various ways to help provide attentive and effective care. However, when using technology, it’s important to consider the big picture. The information gathered from one device will likely come in handy at future stops in the patient’s care journey. However, that data currently is not easy to access, if available at all. Technology’s full impact on patient care is hindered by the fact that healthcare operates in individual service lines.
Think of it this way: healthcare is a variety of assembly lines, all located in different warehouses. While each assembly line delivers the best piece of the product possible, there is still no unified view of the final product. Patients may similarly find themselves seeking care from several different providers. Each provider may use a separate IT system, with each system pulling from various data sources. As a result, a holistic view of the patient’s health does not exist since the patient’s care history and data are scattered. Data in isolation is not useful in making care decisions or predicting outcomes. We cannot transform care when we continue to work in silos.
To provide the level of quality that value-based care demands, we must pull these service lines together. We need to give clinicians the ability to look at multiple parameters and factors from the various technologies and data sources to make the best care decision possible. By collaborating in a new way and putting meaning and action behind the abundance of patient data, we can deliver truly transformative outcomes.
The recent increase in hospital consolidation is helping to seed this collaboration. Projections show that the population covered by accountable care organizations (ACOs) will reach 105 million by 2020. An increase in mergers and acquisitions and the growth of ACOs naturally results in hospitals running numerous versions and brands of the same type of IT, such as electronic medical records, across their whole organization. The use of multiple systems leaves patient data sprinkled in different areas, making it difficult or impossible for clinicians to access data in real time at the point of care.
As mergers and acquisitions activity continues to grow, hospitals will realize it is vital to establish a framework built on interoperable technology to ensure our healthcare assembly line operates seamlessly within a single warehouse. Through careful planning, health systems can find and implement technology that will help all stakeholders get the patient data they need when they need it. These solutions will aggregate data and provide visibility across systems to create complete patient pictures that help physicians make fully educated care decisions.
We have seen many great health IT solutions in recent years with the potential to change patient care as we know it. However, before transformation can occur, we need health systems, hospitals and departments to bring their service lines together and eliminate the siloed environment. If we can get these various technologies to talk to each other and create accessible data, then we increase our chances of succeeding in value-based care and enhancing the healthcare experience for everyone.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog or by commenters are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of HIMSS or its affiliates.
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