Change is the name of the game in health care these days. Our CHOC associates and providers have certainly experienced their share of it with a new tower, new services and new information technology (IT) systems associated with it. The future of CHOC is bright, and the future of our IT systems’ development is bright as well.
The forces driving IT development right now are varied. The Federal “Meaningful Use” program is forcing systems to interoperate so we can share patient data needed for care across a continuum. It’s also driving us to develop more robust communications between providers, a stronger health information exchange (HIE) platform, and better communications with patients. It will also give patients more control over their health care and health care data (patient portal).
Health care payment reform is forcing us to think about caring for populations, not just patients. That pushes the development of systems to follow and manage those populations and to provide the data that providers and facilities need for this expanded scope of care. The move to ICD-10 coding is pushing us to adopt new computerized coding systems, and forward-facing systems to help clinicians improve the quality of their documentation. These natural language processing tools will require that all documentation move to an electronic format.
Cerner, our clinical IT partner, has been paying attention to usability issues, and we’ll roll out new Cerner technology to that end.. First and foremost for practitioners is the move to more narrative-based notes with a new Cerner product called Dynamic Documentation (DynDoc). Along with DynDoc will be voice recognition software as an alternative to typing, and native applications on iPads (Powerchart Touch) to make the whole system more accessible and intuitive. The changeover will begin with the new practices that we still have to bring live on documentation, with the first specialties being critical care and hospitalists late this fiscal year. We’re looking at new Cerner technology for nursing as well for pumps, communications, bar coding and workflow.
Another key issue is access to our systems. We’re moving to a “single sign-on” for Cerner Millennium applications, thus paving the way for badge or other biometric authentication, which will hopefully be financed in next year’s capital budget. Before badge access can be implemented, we have much infrastructure work to do first. We’ll see some benefits of that this year with self-service password reset and a bring-your-own device capability.
CHOC physicians and associates work in a very sophisticated IT environment. The Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) established seven levels of electronic health record adoption. We were just certified as a level-six organization (top 11 percent of all hospitals), and will likely be at level seven (top 2 percent of all hospitals) by the end of 2014. Hospitals that have achieved level seven demonstrate consistently higher quality care and lower care costs. It’s hard to demonstrate “return on investment” with IT systems, but at level seven, the ultimate payback is well documented.
So as we continue this journey, understand that there will be a few bumps in the road. We will do our best to keep you informed of the changes as they occur, but invariably, a few problems will appear that we can’t anticipate. Always feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.