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Is It Time For A Healthcare Black Friday Sale? #HCareBlkFriday

#HCareBlkFriday

It’s that time of year when millions of consumers get hyped up about Black Friday. Retailers open at ridiculous hours and people obsess over the ads, mapping out their course of action to get the best deals!

We live in a time when healthcare costs are at an all-time high so wouldn’t it be nice to have a Healthcare Black Friday Sale?

@Perficient_HC   #HCareBlkFriday

 

Wearable Technology for All

The definition of wearable technology has changed as much as technology has in the last century. In the first waves of wearable technology we got the calculator watch, you know the one, featured in back to the future. Although we have yet to see a hover board, wearable technology has gone to unbelievable heights. From the iPhone 6, to Google Glass, the bar continues to be set higher.Calculator Watch

After the Google Glass Project (smart glasses), several other companies broke into the smart wearables market, including Apple (iWatch), Samsung (Galaxy Gear), and Sony (SmartWatch) shortly after Google. Now you can buy all types of devices, including watches, glasses, headbands, wigs, rings, etc. Using apps for personal and business computing, practical everyday tasks, fitness tracking, and healthcare monitoring.

I recently, purchased a Nike Fitband, hot pink and black of course. Syncing my iPhone with the app was the easy part, however, I learned that there was minimal features of use to me and this was not something I would keep (for $129). I returned it to the store. After that, my need for quick and convenient health data continued. I fed into the buzz around the Apple Healthkit. iPhone is wearable technology that I already was utilizing. So how could I optimize this device? The first thing I noticed was that it was automatically tracking my steps! “Sweet!” I then realized there was a plethora of data analysis tools that could keep track of my health, medical history, my fitness, and my nutrition. “Sweet, times three!”

Even as a psudo-millenial, as I attempted to use the app, I could not figure out how I could get data to input automatically. After doing some internet research, I was led to a list of Apps that can work/sync with the Healthkit. I was disappointed in the list as I was hoping to use the apps I already use, and are familiar with. They were not on the list. This list of new apps didn’t give me any indication if I needed any additional wearable technology (equals more money) to make them work. Some of them are free, some not, so how was I to choose? If I could find this information in one place, I may be able to quickly decide which apps to download or which piece(s) of wearable technology I would like to gather or start collecting.

All of this wearable technology is overwhelming. And I am only digging into the personal use market these apps are not so difficult to understand, it’s how to use them all together that is confusing. This is not only a common problem with all of our personal devices. There is a large business driven market calling for this problem to be resolved. Technology management is taking off; Hospitals have wearable and wireless technology in use all over a hospital, in many medical devices. The ability to capture and manage all the data and have it at one’s fingertips is one of the fastest going industries.

I love my wearable technology, however, just as with any market has quick progression, it may get messy before it gets better. As my life will only get busier, I am looking forward to learning all the opportunities this technology can give me to streamline my life. I encourage any busy person to look into free applications, they can simplify your day to day life in a great way. Can Siri be close to a personal assistant?! Not yet, but we are close!

Webinar: Healthcare Enterprise Data Model: Buy vs Build Debate

The healthcare industry is undergoing an extensive transformation and the changes are putting pressures and demands on organization leaders. Healthcare executives are searching for ways to improve measurable outcomes not only because of the impact they have on the Webinar: Enterprise Data Model Buy vs Build Debatefinancial health of their organization, but because it is the right thing to do.

Organizations are turning to an Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) to aggregate and organize data from disparate sources. An EDW makes information available for analysis by users in the clinical, financial, administrative, and research functions. Most healthcare organizations understand the benefits of a scalable EDW solution that provides the visibility to manage metrics, improve patient satisfaction and care and positively effects the bottom line. However, many organizations aren’t sure where to start, do they build it from scratch or buy one? What are the pros and cons for each approach? How long will it take to get up and running?

Are you interested in the buy vs build debate? Join us as we explore the pros and cons of building your own data model vs. buying one and look at real customer use cases to help weigh the pros and cons of this critical enterprise decision. During this webinar, we will discuss:

  • How experience plays into the equation
  • Which solution delivers value more quickly
  • Which solution helps reduce the risk to the organization
  • How easy is it to integrate other solutions
  • How the decision to build vs. buy can impact your internal team

Webinar: Enterprise Data Model: Buy vs Build Debate
Tuesday, November 18, 2014  |  2:00 PM CT
Register Today

4 Tactics that Drive Successful Enterprise Content Strategy

Last Friday I completed my stint on an enterprise portal (intranet) project for a provider with nearly 60,000 employees.  Having a national presence, the organization I worked with has complex internal collaboration needs.  While the implementation of such a technology is complex, the content strategy needed considerable attention.  It also just so happens that yesterday we published our primer on internal collaboration entitled The Connected Healthcare Enterprise.  Combining these timely learnings, I account for you below three critical items you need to consider when developing your enterprise content strategy.

1. Content Governance

modern computer technology in businessWhile content governance is oftentimes the least glamorous aspect of content creation, a good content governance process will ensure that the content found in the enterprise stays relevant, on message, and updated over time. The purpose of content governance is to ensure appropriate processes are in place for managing the contents of the intranet in a controlled and orderly way. Strong content governance starts at the strategic level and flows down through a series of key stakeholders throughout the content lifecycle.  This requires a cross-functional committee, including a cross-representational group of employees by role, content creators, content approvers, and other stakeholders across the organization, to help guide the strategic content efforts of your enterprise portal into the future. This content committee can be a sub-committee to the larger governance efforts that surround the intranet.

2. Content Audit

To create a content strategy that is practical for the organization, it is important to understand current content.  We took our customer through a thorough content audit process, which helped identify key content types as well as the complex taxonomy that would drive important tools such as search.  This content audit also provides the opportunity for content creators to take a realistic inventory of current content and decide what stays, what goes, and what needs to be updated.

3. Content Creation Workflow

Creating a piece of content for the enterprise necessitates teamwork. The content authorship process requires a series of individuals to work together from creation to publication. The workflows for this content management process can be assigned within an enterprise content management tool for easy automation. Key considerations for this workflow include:

  • Defining Need for New Content
  • Content Creation
  • Content Approval
  • Compliance Approval
  • Pushing Content to the Live Server
  • Content Archive Plan

4. Content Consumption

Making healthcare work requires employees to digest a lot of information daily in order to provide quality care and services.  This mass of data is too much for any given individual to do on their own. That is where the true power of an enterprise content strategy  becomes apparent.  Tools like enterprise social exist to help communities of people digest a lot of information quickly.  Healthcare organizations view the benefits of internal collaboration as a way to take advantage of “crowdsourcing” to solicit input from thought leaders across the organization.  Even better, it causes a dramatic decrease in the primary communication tool that is burying us all: Email.

So, there you have it.  Be sure to check out the  The Connected Healthcare Enterprise white paper to learn how you can transform the standard healthcare intranet into a powerful engagement platform for healthcare providers and health plans.

3 Components for a Successful Hybrid Environment in Healthcare

It is no secret that healthcare organizations are collecting more information today than ever before. They’re collecting information about their own operations, their patients and the communities they serve. The challenge for healthcare organizations isn’t collecting the information, but analyzing the data and efficiently and securely storing it. Healthcare organizations that can overcome the data challenges and gain faster, fuller data insights will have the tools to positively impact patient care and overall business.3 Keys to a Successful Hybrid Environment in Healthcare

When it comes to data storage, healthcare organizations struggle with finding a balance between “on premise” and the cloud. Many CIOs recognize the need to expand beyond the home port and are quickly moving information to public clouds. However, they aren’t completely abandoning their data centers for fear they won’t have control or access to timely information. The hybrid IT solution helps to solve the data storage problem but it also brings a unique set of concerns in regards to data control, data access and data compliance.

Data Control
Data is much easier to control when it is housed in one central location. With a hybrid IT solution, however, you do not have that luxury. Data stored in multiple locations must be seamlessly connected, able to securely and efficiently move between locations and allow you to maintain full control across all platforms.

Data Access
The key to collaboration and improved patient outcomes is ensuring everyone who needs access to data has it. On the flip side, broad data access needs to be secure and only available to authorized users. With a hybrid IT solution integrated data supports collaboration beyond the walls of the healthcare facility.

Data Compliance
Changing regulations are putting added pressure on healthcare organizations. Keeping up with the evolving regulatory landscape is a challenge in itself and having information stored in multiple locations only adds to this complexity. Developing a strategy to protect data and manage it to ensure it meets regulatory requirements is critical to a hybrid IT solution.

Hybrid IT environments provide the best of both worlds when it comes to data storage and analysis. Leveraging a hybrid environment will lead to timely and accurate analysis of data which will result in the delivery of actionable insights for improved collaboration, better patient outcomes and overall lower cost of care.

Considering implementing a hybrid IT environment or just want to learn more? Join Perficient and UnityPoint Health for a discussion on the benefits of Power BI and Office 365, and how one technology-savvy healthcare provider is leveraging its hybrid environment of Power BI, Excel-enabled dashboards and SharePoint 2013.

Sign up for the November 12th webinar

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Time for Chicken Sandwiches Not Steak Dinners In Healthcare

The cost of healthcare is at an all-time high and many people feel the fee-for-service model is the main culprit for the skyrocketing costs. From a logical standpoint it makes sense, healthcare providers get paid more by providing more services. As humans we tend to consumeIt's time for chicken sandwiches not steak dinners in healthcare too much and spend too much, therefore, ditching the fee-for-service model would result in fewer services and less spending, right?

Not so fast, as logical as that sounds I am not completely sold on that theory. When we look at our lives  almost everything we do is based on a fee-for-service model. When we go out to eat,  go to the movies, get new tires on our car, get a haircut, hire a baby sitter or hire someone to do our taxes, we do it on a fee-for-service basis. Those providing the previously mentioned services would like to sell us more, but we generally resist because we don’t want to waste OUR money on unnecessary services. Generally speaking when we pay with OUR money we try to get maximum value and good providers try to be as efficient as possible.

Fee-for-service is not unique to healthcare, however, in the healthcare sector we shop with other people’s money. We have very little out-of-pocket cost for additional services and someone else “picks up the tab” for OUR spending. The third-party payer is one of the big reasons for rising costs and inefficiencies in the healthcare industry. It is human nature not to concern ourselves with the total cost of care, but rather, how much WE have to pay. How many times have you received an explanation of benefits and glanced over it only to notice the part that tells you what you are responsible for?

If we implemented a third-party payment model in other service industries we would be faced with the same inflating costs that we are dealing with in healthcare. If you were only responsible for a $30 copay every time you visit your hair stylist you would be inclined to get unnecessary services in addition to a haircut. Why, because YOU aren’t paying for them, someone else is picking up the tab.

Better yet, you are traveling for work and need something to eat. If it were personal travel you would grab a chicken sandwich and call it a night. But work is paying for it, so you have a steak dinner. As far as you are concerned a steak dinner costs the same as a chicken sandwich because YOU aren’t paying for it, you aren’t accountable for payment.

Healthcare costs and inefficiencies are going to continue to increase until we address the third-party payment model. Healthcare consumers need to be accountable and more aware of the total cost of their healthcare. A more aware and accountable healthcare consumer may be the motivation needed to live a healthier life. Or at the very least eat more chicken sandwiches.

How Biofeedback is Set to Transform the Quantified Self

During the Connected Health Symposium last week, I noticed a significant trend that I have since been calling the “next big thing for the quantified self movement”.   What is the next big thing in a world dominated by fitness trackers and mobile apps?  That next big thing is biofeedback.  I gained access to quite a few innovators while at the conference.  They note that while clinicians have been using biofeedback for eons in order to understand any number of things about a human body, most of those tools do not come in a patient-friendly package.  Thanks to these innovators, now they do.  Here are four examples quantified self devices that use biofeedback to help patients understand and manage their health.

Choose Muse

It is hard to make brain data real to a patient.  As a result, up until now there has been virtually nothing a person can do to improve Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 12.01.25 AMtheir brain health. Psychoanalysis is highly stigmatized, which causes an even bigger drift to form between patients and cognitive health.  In order to fix this, clinicians have created a consumer friendly, clinical grade EEG to provide patients with their first real contact with their brain. The device is called Muse, and it is being dubbed “the brain sensing headband”.

By using the device, patient can improve their cognitive functions and see their outcomes in real time.  This device has also shown promising in the treatment of depression and other mental illness.  Since this treatment is wrapped in the quantitative self trend, it does not receive the same reluctance that stigmatized psychoanalysis does.  This provides promising new treatment options.

HeartMath

During the Connected Health Symposium, it was noted that 75% of physician visits are stress related.  Patients are often made to feel that they arScreen Shot 2014-10-28 at 12.02.55 AMe “stuck with it” and there is nothing that can be done.  However, a really neat connection between the heart and the brain can be used, through the power of feedback, to manage stress related illnesses such as heart disease.

I’m not sure if you knew this, but there is a “brain” in the heart that senses and responds to emotions and communicates through nerves to the brain. This heart-brain communication provides us with a way to manage our stress and  get heart healthy through the use of biofeedback.  Using biofeedback through tools like HeartMath, patients can gain windows into their hearts and brains to self manage their stress response. While this is certainly empowering for prevention of heart disease, heart disease patients have been studied, and have improved outcomes through using the HeartMath biofeedback system.

Stay tuned for an upcoming experiment that is set to merge the Muse and HeartMath technologies.

Sensoree

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 11.32.19 PMIf you work in healthcare technology, and you go to a Connected Health Symposium, then you will get your fair share of interesting conference performances.  In one such performance, we were introduced to Sensoree, which is a company that creates wearable technology that show visually, through light displays, what the individual wearing the technology is feeling.  This proves incredibly helpful for patients with Autism and Alzheimer’s that do not have the ability to communicate their emotional states readily.  Sensoree introduced these technologies by having circus performers wear them during an acrobatic dance routine.  As they danced, you could see their emotional states changing as a red glow of nervousness as the performers began turned into a blue glow of of focus to a purple glow of bliss.

 

BioBeats

This last bit, called BioBeats, is a platform for merging entertainment with healthcare.  In one very compelling move, BioBeats partnered with music crew Far East Movement in an attempt to connect millions of listeners to their health by way of mobile phone enabled heart beat sensors.  As Far East Movement performed, they encouraged their fans to record their hard beats.  By the time the song was over, they had collected over 1.5 million heartbeats that were, in real time, transformed into the beat that lived in the background of their performance.  Check out this “Turn Up The Love” performance below.

Perficient Provides PIH New Tools In The Fight For Global Health

Kent Larson, Director at Perficient recently posted a blog about Partners In Health (PIH) and the new Microsoft tools they are using to help enable their mission to provide a preferential option for the poor in healthcare.

PIH is one of many organizations leading a coalition to combat the Ebola outbreak, working alongside two other organizations – Last Mile Health in Liberia and Wellbody Alliance in Sierra Leone. To help enhance communication and collaboration both domestically and internationally, PIH is migrating to Microsoft Office 365.

Perficient is assisting PIH with their migration to Microsoft’s Office 365 (O365) solution. O365 will allow users to access their email from anywhere in the world on any computer or mobile device with access to the Internet. OneDrive for O365 will enhance collaboration between all PIH users, both domestically and internationally. The platform will provide PIH with a reliable and secure communication toolbox, including storage and collaboration tools. Deployment of O365 across PIH sites in Africa, Haiti, Russia, and the U.S. will enable PIH’s mission to provide a preferential option for the poor in healthcare  and will be an important tool to enhance communication as they respond to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

To read Kent’s entire post and to learn more about the mission of PIH click here.

How to Create Habit-Forming Technology Solutions

Last week, I was at the Connected Health Symposium in Boston.  It is with great pleasure that I relay what I was taught during my favorite session by Nir Eyal author of “Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products”.

shutterstock_78240940 copyWe know that mobile devices change our day-to-day behavior, but why are mobile devices so good at changing our habits?  To understand how, we must understand what habits are and how they are changed. Habits are impulses to do a behavior with little to no conscious thought.  When you think about it, social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and SnapChat get us to do some pretty bizarre behaviors as habits.  Now, over the span of just a few short years, billions are using these social platform as day-to-day habits that require little to no conscious thought.

It goes to say, then, that creating a habit-forming technology solution of any type would require us to speak directly to the unconscious mind.  To do this, Eyal advocates what is calls the “Hook Model”.  This is defined as using experience design to connect a user’s problem to your solution with enough frequency to create a habit.  To do so, it is critical that your solution include the following four components of a hook:

  1. Trigger: A trigger is a cue to action that prompts the user to perform a habitual action.  These triggers come in two forms.  You have external triggers in the environment that tell us what to do next. Common external triggers include what we call “calls to action” in marketing, which is the “Buy Now” request.  A friend telling you to try a certain solution is also a powerful external trigger.  However, it is the internal trigger that is the most important.  Internal triggers are associations in someone’s mind that inform what to do next.  These associations come from emotions, routines, situations, people, and places. Ultimately, this requires you to have an intimate understanding of your user’s painpoints and how they respond to those painpoints.  For example, people with depression check email more. The theory behind this association states that  people suffering from bad emotions turn to their technologies to feel better. Generally speaking: Lonely = Facebook, Bored = YouTube, Confused = Google. We use these technologies to escape negative valence states. So, how do you make better products and services that help people live healthier lives?  You need to understand what internal trigger you are creating an association with.
  2. Action: An action is defined as the simplest behavior done in anticipation of reward. The reward need not be in the form of Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 8.08.31 PMpoints and leader boards.  Want examples of the most compelling rewards used by leaders today?  Scrolling on Pinterest. Searching on Google. Play button on YouTube.  These are all “rewards” in that studies have shown they relieve enough tension in the human mind to create an addiction to our mobile phones.  There is a formula you can use to predict the power of reward found in these singular behaviors. That formula is B=M+A+T.  According to BJ Fogg, in order for any behavior to occur, we need motivation, ability, and a trigger.  Motivation is the “energy for action” (how much we want to do a behavior). Six factors to increase motivation include: seeking pleasure, avoiding pain, seeking hope, avoiding fear, seeking acceptance, and avoiding rejection. Ability is the capacity to do an action (how easy or difficult it is to do).   Six factors can increase or decrease ability: time, money, physical effort, brain cycles, social deviance, and non-routine. This is why we are more likely to do something when we see someone we know doing it. We are also more likely to do something we’ve done before . X-Y access that’s Ability (how easy) vs. Motivation
  3. Reward: To get at the heart of reward, we have to start in the brain.  More specifically we have to start in a portion of the brain called nucleus accumbens, which has some unusual properties. When they allow lab animals to trigger this portion of the brain by pushing a button, those animals will continue to do so obsessively.  In fact, the machines have to be forcibly removed.  At first it was assumed that this portion of the brain activated a pleasure center.  That was not correct.  It actually activated the “stress of desire”. The thing is, there is a way to stimulate this itch that we crave to scratch. Within the premise of “the unknown is fascinating”, variability causes us to increase focus and not let go. If a reward is given on a variable basis, then it spikes activity in the nucleus accumbens. One import variable reward system are “rewards of the tribe”, which are things that feel good that come from other people like empathetic joy, partnership, and competition. Social media is a erasure trove for rewards of the tribe.  Rewards of the hunt, like gambling, also provide the variability that we desire. The information rewards we receive from search engines like Google are good examples of a reward of the hunt. The social media activity feed works in the same way  (that’s not interesting, that’s not interesting, wait, that’s interesting!).  Then there are rewards of the self.  A search for self-achievment has an important element of variability, which is why people are happiest when they are trying to reach a goal (as opposed to having already achieved that goal).   Mastery, competency, and control are rewards of the self.  Ultimately, variable rewards are about scratching the user’s itch but leaving them with the mystery of what will happen next.  One of the ultimate examples is the email inbox.  The quest to clear your inbox can be seen as a game because the little icon signifying that you have mail told you to do something.  Making that little icon go away is an important variable reward that keeps us coming back for more.
  4. Investment: This is a variable of the hook that most companies neglect, and, therefore, presents the greatest opportunity for growth. They receive a variable reward.  What’s next?  “Investments”are defined as the load for the next trigger.  Unlike physical products that deteriorate over time, habit forming technologies appreciate and get more valuable the more they are used because of the investments in stored value. The more content that is collected in iTunes, the more value it has and the better it becomes. The more accounts I connect in Mint, the more valuable it becomes to me.   The more followers I have the more interesting Twitter becomes. Users need to be able to store their value in your technology solution.  This value is stored as a reputation that a user can “take to the bank”. How likely are you to leave a platform after you have stored value in terms of reputation?

This is how customer attitudes change and habits are formed. If you are building a technology that requires habits, then you need to ask these five questions to know if you have been successful:

  • What internal trigger is the solution addressing?
  • What external trigger gets the user to your solution?
  • What is the simplest behavior in anticipation of reward?
  • Is the reward fulfilling yet leaves the user wanting more?
  • What “bit of work” is done to increase the likelihood of returning?

Eyal ended his talk with a discussion on the morality of manipulation.  Designing habit-forming products is a form of manipulation. As a result, engineers of these solutions need to be careful. We need to be responsible for the impact we have on changing user behavior by using this power for the force of good by fixing one of the world’s problems.

Webinar: Healthcare Enterprise Data Model: Buy vs. Build Debate

Transformation is sweeping across healthcare in the United States at a rapid rate. Healthcare organizations, regardless of size, need to embrace new technologies in order to keep up with the quickly changing landscape and comply with evolving regulatory requirements.Healthcare Enterprise Data Model: Buy vs Build Debate

The solutions to these challenges have one thing in common, the need for accurate information. In some cases, the information required can be sourced from a single system, but in many situations, the need requires information from a wide range of systems that could include Electronic Medical Records (EMR), Claims, Financial and Human Resources.

The solution for many organizations starts with the creation of an enterprise wide data warehouse (EDW) that serves as their “single version of truth”. At the foundation of the data warehouse is the need for a data model that accurately organizes the data in meaningful ways. Many organizations will build their own data model while others will look to leverage an industry proven data model from an experienced vendor. This choice to buy vs. build, can be one that causes great debate within organizations both large and small.

At a high level, the pros to building your own enterprise data model will come down to flexibility and control. If you choose to build your own customized model, you will get to make each and every design decision based on how your organization operates, this can be very tempting.

The main advantage to buying a data model is the time to implementation. Many of the tough decisions are made for you, based on years of experience across a wide range of customers; purchased models are often much faster to implement.

As the debate continues you will need to weigh factors like experience, time to value, risk, integration accelerators and impact on your staff. Each of these topics needs to be considered as your organization decides whether to buy or build your enterprise data model.

Interested in more information on how to weigh the pros and cons of this critical enterprise decision? Join Perficient on November 18th for a complimentary webinar. We will examine critical factors that need to be evaluated when deciding whether to build or buy an enterprise data model. We will explore real-life client stories and discuss how they benefited from their decisions.

Upcoming Webinar: Healthcare Enterprise Data Model: The Buy vs Build Debate
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 @ 2:00 PM CT

In Healthcare, Connectivity Is Not Collaborating

Interoperability between different electronic health record (EHR) systems is one of the most important requirements that hospitals and physicians must meet as they prepare their systems for attestation in Meaningful Use Stage 2.

However, let’s examine the real goals of interoperability within healthcare: In Healthcare Connectivity is not Collaborating

1) To make sure “information follows the patient regardless of geographic, organizational, or vendor boundaries”

2) To have at least one or more instances in which providers exchange an electronic summary of care with all the clinical data elements between different EHRs. Establishing this connectivity does not insure the real goal of collaborating across the continuum of care for the patient’s benefit.

The debate still rages on the role of the patient in this interoperability process as well. We have all, as patients, had our medical files spread across a family doctor, multiple hospitals, specialists, health plans and today, even multiple pharmacies. The prospect of creating a complete picture is staggering, let alone having all of those healthcare providers really collaborate on our behalf. Is it the patient’s responsibility in this ever-changing healthcare electronic revolution to compile this electronic mess into a coordinated whole or will the industry magically create it as a result of Meaningful Use Stage 2?

It is worth arguing that interoperability in Meaningful Use Stage 2 only creates a baseline of connectivity between two or more systems to exchange information and puts in place the ability of those systems to use the information that has been exchanged. It does not create collaboration on behalf of patients within the healthcare provider community, especially between competing players like local hospital systems or healthcare providers versus payers. Having the ability to connect only trades fax machines for electronic transactions, if tools aren’t employed for physicians for example to collaborate over a single patient.

In advocating for collaboration, let’s examine the reality of an exchange of a set of electronic transactions about a patient versus where the process would need to be for genuine care coordination. Today, a fax from the hospital to the family physician is the notification that the patient was hospitalized and needs follow-up in coming weeks. Based on the type of hospitalization, a call between the attending physician and family physician may be warranted, and a potential referral to a subsequent specialist may be in order. Simply communicating electronic documents doesn’t address the interaction between key people in the decision-making process and the assumption that the inclusion of unstructured physician notes will suffice may be optimistic.

This means that health information exchange is different than health information interoperability. Exchange is necessary for interoperability, but it is not sufficient by itself to achieve health information interoperability, especially to streamline real collaboration on behalf of patients. It is time to examine an expanded view of both interoperability and health information exchange to promote ease of collaboration between the parties involved, including secure physician to physician communications – electronic or instant message, for example, and secure physician to patient communications. As an individual patient having to deal with multiple patient portals today for communicating with my healthcare providers, there is a real concern to address this issue sooner rather than clean up confusion later.

Can we define collaboration in a way that traverses healthcare’s landscape of emerging connectivity?

The Problem with Health IT is in the Definition

There has been a lot of debate around the challenges within the healthcare industry. Much of the discussion stems from the fee-for-service model and the focus on services and reimbursement rather than the patient. Health information technology has its own set of challenges when it comes to addressing healthcare issues. The Problem with Health IT is in the Definition

If we truly want to put the patient at the center of their own healthcare experience than we need to take a step back and look at the relationship of the patient and the entire healthcare ecosystem. Healthcare should focus less on the products and services and more on the patient and provider relationship. Furthermore, health IT should support these relationships, however, by its own definition it doesn’t.

By definition,  Health information technology (IT) encompasses a wide range of products and services—including software, hardware and infrastructure—designed to collect, store and exchange patient data throughout the clinical practice of medicine.

The definition does not mention the patient and provider relationship and the emphasis is on products and services, software and hardware and does not reflect on the benefits of patient data exchange.

A better health IT definition: An automated approach that facilitates the relationship between the patient and the healthcare system through the accurate and secure electronic exchange of data, ensuring the right data is available at the right time for everyone that is engaged in the patient’s care.

This definition includes 3 critical components:

  • The importance of the patient relationship with the healthcare system
  • The importance of accurate and secure electronic data exchange
  • The benefits of data exchange in regards to patient care

A new definition will not solve the challenges of the healthcare industry, but it is a good place to start. It may be enough of a push to ensure technology developers are developing meaningful applications that improve patient outcomes, which should be the ultimate goal of health IT.