Patient-Centered Care: Building the Connected Healthcare Enterprise

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The EMR is the epicenter for healthcare data today. CIOs and health IT leaders are focused on integrating department data, medical images and analytics with the objective of making clinical data access seamless, transparent and easy to navigate.
Source: Sectra

Clinical studies have long proven that patient-centered care reduces variability, improves quality in clinical practice and patient outcomes and reduces cost. This is the shared goal of healthcare’s Triple Aim: Simultaneously improving the health of the population, enhancing the experience and outcomes of the patient, and reducing per capita cost of care for the benefit of communities. Achieving the Triple Aim is no small task, as health leaders tell us. Clinical Innovation + Technology spoke with CIOs and health IT leaders from four leading health systems that are making IT the enabler of better care and patient engagement, with a constant eye on the bottom line. Hear what the experts have to say, including: John Foley, CIO of University Hospitals in Cleveland; Arlyn Broekhuis, CIO of Sanford Health in the northern and Midwest tier of the U.S.; Gene Thomas, CIO of Memorial Hospital in Gulfport, Miss.; and Linda Womack RT(R), the executive director of imaging services at John Muir Health in northern California.

CIO Priorites: Connected Healthcare

It has been said that every health system is different; unique in strengths and structure. But as healthcare evolves, the similarities are building and converging. Converging, too, are the priorities of today’s CIOs and clinical IT leaders. Together they rally around shared priorities that support the Triple Aim, such as:

  • Overseeing health system growth, mergers and acquisitions;
  • Consolidating IT systems and vendors;
  • Managing medical images across all ‘ologies;
  • Building analytics;
  • Interoperability;
  • Information security; and
  • Enhancing the user experience for physicians and patients.

In a series of four case studies, our CIOs and IT leaders show us how they have put strategies into action. They share, first hand, their goals, game plans, solutions and successes.

Cleveland University Hospitals: Setting Strategies and Priorities

University Hospitals (UH) in Cleveland has made it a priority to unite caregivers and information. This $3.5 billion health system is focused on providing comprehensive community-based care and growing the system via acquisitions and physician employment. IT is at the center of the strategy.

“We’re focused on a growth mandate,” says Foley, who took the CIO helm two years ago. “Specifically, we are expanding and leveraging our operating platform especially in the face of reimbursement reductions. We need to find effective ways to share clinical data, enabling a community view of care, medical records and clinical information across a broader platform. Whether it’s UH-employed, affiliated or independent physicians, connecting the community is a major part of our agenda. We also need to give patients full access to data to try to improve their care and the well-being of the community. Those connections need to be made easily.”

The UH community is a large one. The system’s 1,032-bed, tertiary medical center, University Hospitals, is an affiliate of Case Western Reserve University. UH also includes University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center, part of the National Cancer Institute-designated Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals MacDonald Women’s Hospital. More than 25,000 physicians and employees constitute University Hospitals and its partnership hospitals. Annually, UH performs more than 4.5 million outpatient procedures and nearly 63,000 inpatient discharges.

Along with growth, UH has a whole new strategy in IT. Instead of using systems that push information from one hospital and physician to the other, UH is employing personal health records and patient portal technology that encourage patient engagement, allowing patients to view results, request medication refills and appointments, and send secure messages to their physician. UH currently engages more than 56,000 of its patients through the UH Personal Health Record. 

For the physician, the EMR interface needs to be seamless, transparent and easy to navigate. “If the system is not easy to use, we won’t capture the patient data we want. Our physicians are realizing that more digital information, including images, means a more complete picture of the patient’s care,” Foley says. Direct links to Sectra PACS from within the EMR allow physicians to immediately view an image. Physicians also may view the high-resolution image by following a link to the radiology system.

To further enhance PACS