Five Perspectives on How Data, Technology, Empathy Can Improve Care Delivery – for Everyone

Five multidisciplinary healthcare perspectives

In a recent HIMSS blog post and HIMSS TV interview, Harvard Medical School’s executive education associate dean, Stanley Shaw, MD, PhD, discussed how a multidisciplinary faculty of frontline healthcare perspectives paired with health IT innovation can empower leaders to shape and execute their strategic vision for thoughtful, relevant, cost-effective care delivery.

Compiled below are five unique and innovative perspectives that healthcare leaders need to explore as they evolve their empathic journey toward patient and financial wellness.




Tackling the Healthcare Cost Problem

In the context of the growth in new payment models, accountable care and a renewed focus on value, physician leaders are unlocking the true potential of data to navigate an optimal balance between cost, quality and outcomes in the care of their populations.

Rising costs of health and care delivery are straining the end-to-end healthcare experience – across all stakeholder groups – and is having a remarkable societal impact, said Sree Chaguturu, MD, chief population officer, Partners HealthCare. Chaguturu attributes the rise in healthcare costs to the following factors outlined in his Harvard Medical School Executive Education webinar, How Physicians Can Control Health Care Costs:

  • Failures of care delivery
  • Failures of care coordination
  • Overtreatment
  • Administrative complexity
  • Pricing failures
  • Fraud and abuse

The solution to managing costs is not a silver bullet and not all of the burden to addressing healthcare’s cost problem falls on providers. Rather, Dr. Chaguturu details how progress will be a careful, collaborative orchestration between stakeholders in the form of:

  • Advanced primary care
  • High-risk care management
  • Behavioral health integrations with primary care
  • Care continuum programs targeting optimizing site-of-care

Embracing, Empowering Patient Voices

The patient experience, now more than ever, is critical to laying new foundations in care delivery.

Lung cancer advocate, activist and “expert on her own experience,” Linnea Olson contends that patients are critical “explorers” at the frontier of revolutionary healthcare delivery and innovative clinical trialing.

“I think industry is ready and willing to listen. […] That’s a paradigm that’s really changed. […] Patients are taking on a bigger burden: more blood, more sweat, more tears, more money. I’d like to see the way participants are looked at in trials become less ‘mouse/rabbit/rat/beagle’ and more ‘astronaut.’ We really are explorers in a way. I would like to be supported in that endeavor. Recognize that I’m taking on great risk and greater burden and make it easier for me,” Olson said in a recent Harvard Medical School Industry Insights interview.

Olson’s firsthand experience in her battle with cancer reveals opportunities where clinical care, data and IT can contribute to generalizable solutions that alleviate the stresses of and improve outcomes of care delivery.

“As I continued and broadened my advocacy efforts I have had the privilege of coming to know and care about so many extraordinary individuals,” Olson wrote in her blog Life and Breath: Outliving Cancer. “And I have watched with amazement as they have poured their passion and individual skillsets into advocacy in ways that were often beyond my own scope.”


Enabling an Apps-Based Information Economy

At a time of widespread EHR adoption, a growing need for interoperability and a drive for patient-centric care, the use of the SMART platform architecture and FHIR standards can stimulate a rapidly growing apps-based information economy and marketplace for developer community innovation.

In a Harvard Medical School Industry Insights interview, Kenneth Mandl, MD, MPH, director, computational health informatics program (CHIP), Boston Children's Hospital and Donald A.B. Lindberg, professor, pediatrics and biomedical informatics with Harvard Medical School contends that breakthroughs in data liquidity will be a boon to bringing critical health information capabilities to the point-of-care:

  • Genomics
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Decision support
  • Data visualization

In order to harness these capabilities, healthcare leaders must still address interoperability, regulatory and patient privacy concerns, says Dr. Mandl. However, he cites that major U.S. health systems – 500 participating hospitals in total – are already improving patient care with this technology and data access.

Data for Quality, Safety and Practice Improvement

Cancer care uniquely excels at the intersection of genomics, data science, novel but expensive therapies, and close patient-doctor cooperation. Inga Lennes, MD, MPH, MBA, director of clinical quality and medical director for ambulatory services at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, is a leader in leveraging data and analytics from quality initiatives and process improvement efforts to positively affect patient care delivery.

Explore how Dr. Lennes and her colleagues are leveraging technology tools and driving quality, thoughtful care delivery in their innovative, early detection culture at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in the video below.

Virtual Care and the Home Hospital

Remote healthcare delivery has greatly expanded reach and access to care and is an increasingly important component of organizational strategy across the healthcare spectrum.

David M. Levine, MD, MPH, MA, is a general internist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where he directs their Home Hospital project – the delivery of acute care services in the patient’s home getting them exactly the right care that they need. In his post, Levine has encountered both evidence and challenges involved in shifting care delivery to a virtual perspective and extending the reach of care teams.

In this Harvard Medical School Industry Insights interview, Dr. Levine discusses how the Home Hospital initiative has seen consistent levels of quality, safety and cost control – all while giving patients a more seamless “nothing like home” experience:

  • Decreased 30-day readmissions
  • Improved patient satisfaction
  • Improved physical activity
  • Controlled overtreatment

While the benefits of this care methodology are clear, some challenges and needs remain:

  • More robust telemedicine solutions, including point-of-care diagnostics
  • Improved use of sensor technology
  • Consideration to patient privacy, engagement
  • Care team resourcing

Learn more about this virtual care initiative via the video below.


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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