The healthcare industry is at a crossroads. Changing priorities, conflicts, opportunities, advances and declines are all measures that affect the direction of healthcare and the ability to achieve success. Today’s healthcare arena focuses on “value based care” over the old “fee for service” model and monitoring and managing chronic care vs. reacting to sick care. This change has occurred due to effectively deploying big information technology in order to improve our clinical, administrative, financial, and organizational performances.
MACRA, MIPS, ACO, Big Data, Data Science, Business Intelligence, AI & Machine Learning, if you are familiar with these types of buzz words and acronyms you already know what I am talking about. Healthcare is in a major flux right now and a cloud of uncertainty looms above, keeping our vision obscured. There are many opportunities and challenges we face today in healthcare and I believe the leadership of our CIO’s plays a crucial role in facilitating innovation, collaboration and creating new opportunities for our success ahead.
A friend of mine always tells me—‘We in healthcare are amongst the only industry where introduction of technology and innovation has added an expense, instead of reducing it’—why is that? From my experiences as CIO, Healthcare is not about ‘Big Data and Big Solutions’ but instead it is about ‘Small Real Problems and Big Solutions.’ We live in an age of algorithms and technology evolutions beyond imagination, but we still have to manage real small clinical and business problems left unsolved in healthcare. How can we promise a better healthcare system for our future generations unless we focus on our small day to day pain points and process improvement needs?
"We in healthcare are amongst the only industry where introduction of technology and innovation has added an expense, instead of reducing it"
A great mentor of mine, Dr. Adrian Zai, says it better than anyone—“Healthcare IT innovation should always be about ‘Workflow, Workflow and Workflow’.” As we embrace the healthcare shift to data-driven and value-based care models, one of the biggest responsibilities CIOs have is around change management. Implementing big technology into the healthcare fold has incredible advantages. Compass Medical, for example, experienced substantial organizational challenges in 2016 and 2017. We knew what we were good at and what we were not good at, but there was no science behind it. It was mostly anecdotal. As we started looking at analytics, we started creating data-driven insights around problems we knew we had to get better at. From there, Compass Medical committed itself to developing a team-based care model, along with integrating a new Electronic Medical Record (EMR) platform, to enhance both the patient and provider experience. In its simplest form, EMR technology is nothing new. To make it work better for us, Compass Medical took an out of the box product and pushed its potential to optimize and customize the platform, elevating our organization to an entirely new level of healthcare. By leveraging big data and customizing our patient engagement efforts, Compass Medical has developed a strong care management team and created a 360-degree view of patient care across all healthcare domains.
Adversely, implementing big technology has the potential to open a Pandora’s Box of challenges. Culture shift, for one, is underestimated factor in progress and innovation, far more than I would like to confess. Whether you are working for an enterprise or a startup, hospital or a provider group, payer or an employer, you are bound to face challenges and opportunities directly tied to the culture of your organization and the ecosystem you are part of. Implementing big technology will cause changes in workflow, processes, procedures and even workload, and thus, has potential to change the vibe and atmosphere of an organization. These changes can become an incredible obstacle for any organization to overcome and can lead to mistrust within the organization and eventual provider and staff burnout if left unattended.
There is a common misconception around ‘trust’ needing time to develop. Many research studies have shown trust is dependent on interactions, not based on time. The more positive interactions we can create rapidly with our teams, the better chance we have at creating a success story and leveraging new opportunities. To overcome these obstacles and instill trust in our teams, Compass Medical invested an incredible amount of energy developing a brand new training department and learning academy. I believe to be successful, you need to have four components. You need a strong leadership team to help identify and drive opportunities for change, accurate data and access to the data, by-in and participation from the entire organization, and most importantly, support that providers can count on. These four components have allowed Compass Medical to leverage big data solutions, operationalize the changes and manage the challenges.
Courtney Fisher-Lewis, Associate CIO, Saint Luke’s Health System & Ex-Sr. Director, IS Program Management, Children’s Mercy Hospital David Chou, SVP & CIO, Harris Health System & Ex-Chief Information & Digital Officer, Children’s Mercy Hospital