Mar 09 2017

How Cleveland Clinic Stays on the Bleeding Edge of Health IT

The healthcare organization is turning to tech to introduce more personalized and long-distance care for all of its patients.

With nine regional hospitals and 18 full-service health centers, the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic is a health system defined by its innovation.

As part of its goal to stay on the leading edge of health technology, the organization has made several moves in the last few years to introduce new tech that aims to reduce provider workload and improve patient care.

Building out Health IT with IBM Watson’s Cognitive Computing

With the aim to provide more personalized care, late last year the clinic announced a five-year agreement with IBM to expand its health IT capabilities in order to better capture the value of Big Data and enhance patient care.

“This initiative with IBM … will significantly advance our IT capabilities, which are increasingly important to provide the best care to patients as healthcare becomes more and more technology dependent,” said Toby Cosgrove, CEO and president of Cleveland Clinic, in a statement on the new collaboration. “With the explosion of data in healthcare, the technology solutions we will develop and implement together could transform our ability to deliver quality, evidence-based care and better respond to the needs of our patients, caregivers and partners.”

The clinic will expand its use of IBM products — a secured cloud as well as social, mobile and Watson cognitive computing technologies — across both clinical and administrative operations in order to enable more efficient analysis of data from electronic health records (EHR), information from administrative claims, and social determinants of health, according to the release.

Moreover, the collaboration could cut back on physician burnout by expanding the use of cognitive computing, which could simplify workflow and reduce workload.

“We’re excited about the vision and promise of cognitive computing,” William Morris, the Cleveland Clinic’s associate chief information officer told Health Data Management. “We feel like it has a strong potential to address the problem of physician burnout and the challenge of being mired in data and not actually having synthesized knowledge.”

Furthering Cancer Treatment Through Genomic Testing

In another collaboration with IBM, the clinic launched its pilot of Watson for Genomics in 2014. The genomics program researches new cancer treatments based on a patient’s genetic makeup — technology the clinic uses today for genomic interpretation as part of its recently opened $276-million outpatient cancer center.

In partnership with other providers, such as the University of North Carolina’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, the technology is working to apply clinically actionable treatments to cancer patients.

“We’re scaling genomics. Watson for Genomics is with Quest Diagnostics, so we will reach and could reach genomic sequencing, advanced stage cancer for almost any patient in the United States … Precision medicine to me is just now going to come alive,” IBM President and CEO Ginni Rommetty said in a keynote speech at HIMSS 2017, in which she also touched on the advances in cognitive computing and artificial intelligence.

Taking Telemedicine Into the Mainstream

A recent CDW patient engagement survey found that widespread adoption of telemedicine is still on the horizon, with only 9 percent of healthcare providers reporting that they feel comfortable with the technology.

The Cleveland Clinic, however, is making strides to take telehealth mainstream. In the last year alone, the company performed 9,700 virtual visits, “including Express Care Online and postop visits, Telestroke acute stroke response, neurological inpatient consults, dermatology tele-triage, patient-requested second opinions and nutrition consults,” Cosgrove said in the clinic’s annual state of the clinic address.

The organization has also moved to partner with CVS MinuteClinic in Ohio to incorporate telehealth in the walk-in clinic for minor injuries or minor abrasions. According to Fast Company, nurses at the MinuteClinic can now suggest follow-ups, based on the severity of the injury, with a primary care practitioner from the Cleveland Clinic via a virtual appointment.

Moreover, to cater to globe-trotters, the clinic is partnering with telehealth company Vigilint to launch a new telemedicine program focused on providing 24/7 medical assistance for travelers across the globe. With a single call, travelers can access the Global MedAssist Program (GMAP), a medical operations center that calls on innovative technologies and “advanced telemedicine intelligence” alongside operations analysts and data sources to provide care.

“As a leader in telemedicine and distance health initiatives, GMAP has been developed to remove the geographic barriers to care, anywhere, anytime,” said Jonathan Schaffer, managing director of the Cleveland Clinic’s distance health unit, in a statement on the new program.

Cleveland Clinic

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