Each year since 2006, the healthcare technology community has participated in National Health IT Week, which focuses on spreading awareness of how health IT benefits patients and providers as well as issues impacting its development and use.
This year, NHIT Week will center on demonstrating the value of health IT in four areas: its support for care transformation; how it expands access to high-quality care; its enhancement of economic opportunities; and how it improves the overall health of communities.
Several examples come to mind for how technology and innovation help organizations and individuals to meet those goals. Let’s examine a few.
Organizations Support Care Transformation
Healthcare organizations increasingly are turning to technology to innovate care processes. Look at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, which uses a data lake to improve the accuracy of medication delivery. Chief Medical Information Officer Vinay Vaidya says the technology has “completely changed” the hospital’s culture.
Companies like Microsoft and Apple continue to innovate with healthcare in mind, as well. Through a partnership with Gamers Outreach announced earlier this year, Microsoft will bring gaming hardware and software to children’s hospitals to help young patients undergoing long-term treatments. Meanwhile, Apple is collaborating with Stanford Medicine to use information gleaned from Apple Watch to identify serious heart conditions like atrial fibrillation.
Such efforts represent transformation to its core.
Health IT Expands Access to Care
Telemedicine technology is helping providers like the University of Mississippi Medical Center and the University of Maryland Medical System deliver timely, quality care to patients most in need.
In Mississippi, the medical center offers telehealth care focusing on 35 medical specialties in 69 of the state’s 82 counties. Notable among UMMC’s efforts are a tablet-enabled program that allows high school football players with suspected concussions to be evaluated on the sidelines and a remote monitoring program geared toward keeping diabetic patients out of the emergency room.
In Maryland, UMMS operates more than 20 telemedicine programs, including intensive care unit services, remote pediatric emergency care, stroke care and psychiatric care.
For patients who don’t reside close to a well-equipped provider organization, telemedicine setups certainly improve access to quality care.
Tech Helps Providers Increase Economic Opportunities
At St. Louis–based Mercy, data analytics technology has helped the health system cut costs dramatically while also saving lives. In particular, the organization earned the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society’s 2016 Enterprise Davies Award, deploying such tech to examine the supply cost per case and then compare different cases to identify variances.
In fiscal year 2016 alone, Mercy saved $14 million thanks to those efforts.
Innovations Bolster Community Health
Technology plays a big role in enhancing the overall health of communities. A growing IT infrastructure serves as the backbone for care provided by Delaware Guidance Services, which delivers therapeutic services to local children and their families to increase social and behavioral wellness.
What’s more, data analytics tools are helping locales like Johnson County in Kansas improve mental health and public safety coordination, which both improves care for those who need it and conserves valuable resources.
IT is vital to improving the delivery of care. NHIT Week shines a necessary spotlight on current successes as well as areas in need of greater attention.