May 01 2017

Health Datapalooza 2017: Why Some Hospitals Struggle to Make Room for Innovation

A “litany” of hurdles often overwhelms provider organizations just trying to keep pace with technology advances.

While innovation for healthcare providers is nice in theory, the reality is that, for the average organization, outside threats and scattered regulations make it a task much easier said than done, Imprivata CIO Aaron Miri says.

Miri, who spoke on a panel at Health Datapalooza last week in Washington, D.C., says that as the rest of the world continues to evolve in the 21st century, healthcare lags behind other industries, in large part due to industry-specific complexities.

“There is a litany of other issues we have to get over beyond technology,” Miri says. One such issue is patient misidentification, which occurs much more often than the general public realizes.

“If you look at this from a claims perspective, you’ll see this occurs more often than not with claims that are sitting in adjudication or are denied because they didn’t identify Aaron as Aaron, for instance,” he says.

Miri, who previously served as CIO at Dallas-based Walnut Hill Medical Center, says he encountered an issue where he had more than 100 Maria Garcias in his system with the same date of birth and many other similar attributes.

“Sometimes the folks at the front desk are so overwhelmed that they just don’t find Maria Garcia and they create a new record,” Miri says. “Or the patient is unconscious and they create a new record. So patients are confused, they can’t communicate, the registrars are rushed, there’s culture variation and that’s on top of intentional fraud.”

Such issues can cost organizations dearly — roughly $1.2 million annually per hospital, according to a 2016 Ponemon Institute study, he says.

“And that was only what could be identified [by Ponemon],” Miri says.

Poor data exchange between disparate organizations also hampers innovation, he says. Miri says that when his second child was born at one hospital, he was forced to drive 30 miles to another hospital to physically obtain his wife’s medical records so they could be shared with her delivery doctor, as the hospitals did not have a data-exchange relationship.

“As I was driving between hospitals I was thinking, ‘I’m a hospital CIO in the 21st century. I know the other two CIOs, yet I’m in my car grabbing a paper record. What in the world is going on here?’” Miri says.

But that’s reality, he says.

Additionally, Miri shared the story of purchasing brand-new medication dispensing cabinets from a manufacturer, only to have them riddled with malware at the onset.

“This is the day-to-day reality of what’s happening in hospitals,” Miri says. “What keeps hospital CIOs from immediately going into the digital divide is fear of the unknown. I’m not saying this is indicative of all vendors, but this kind of a variation occurs because of a lack of standards and rules of the road that everybody plays by.

“This feeds into the overall mindset of ‘how do I innovate when these issues need to be dealt with first?’”