Jun 24 2019

Laying the Foundation for IT Innovation in Healthcare

Too often, organizations implement promising, new technology without first setting up the backbone infrastructure to support it.

As providers begin adopting innovative healthcare tools, patients, doctors and administrators expect to see major benefits. But that’s not always how things play out.

An article from HIMSS Analytics describes the problem: “Too often, we see organizations implement a complex new clinical application, only for it to glitch under infrastructure that isn't powerful enough to support it. This leads to nightmare implementations, frustrated clinicians and greater inefficiencies.”

For organizations to experience efficiency gains, increased patient safety, reduced operational costs and other transformational outcomes after a deployment, they need to think strategically about the infrastructure behind today’s latest healthcare technologies.

MORE FROM HEALTHTECH: Check out what experts are saying about healthcare organizations prioritizing infrastructure modernization.

Data Analytics Makes a Dent in Wait Times

When Jefferson Health wanted to take proactive steps to keep its operating room schedules running smoothly, the Philadelphia-based organization turned to data. It implemented Qlik Sense analytics and visualization solutions to capture clinical and financial data from electronic systems throughout Jefferson Health’s 14 hospitals and healthcare facilities.

Interactive dashboards then helped doctors and other staff hone their processes in the operating room to ensure surgeries began on schedule. As a result of the change, Jefferson Health increased on-time OR starts by 25 percent, improving patient satisfaction and saving nearly $300,000 a month.

Of course, any analytics initiative requires a robust network, as well as on-premises or cloud solutions that can store and process the influx of information. Having the right mobile devices is also essential to ensuring access to data insights.

Artificial Intelligence Saves Time — and Lives

Cutting-edge healthcare organizations are benefiting from rich insights delivered by AI. UCLA Health, for example, freed up a significant portion of radiologists’ time by deploying a deep-learning chat system that answers simple patient care questions from physicians and clinicians, forwarding only complex questions to human radiologists.

At Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans, AI helps clinicians predict patient coding — instances of cardiac or respiratory arrest — to enable proactive care. In a 90-day pilot of the technology, Ochsner’s Rapid Response Team achieved a 44 percent decrease in adverse events outside of the intensive care unit.

Here, again, it’s important for providers to think through networking and data center or cloud considerations before rolling out AI applications. 

How to Bring Modern Technologies to Your Organization

So how can you gauge whether your organization has the infrastructure to support such innovative programs? Start with the new HIMSS Analytics Infrastructure Adoption Model (INFRAM), which reviews five areas of an organization’s infrastructure: 

  1. Collaboration
  2. Data center
  3. Mobility
  4. Security
  5. Data transport

The tool aims to give providers a clear roadmap for strengthening infrastructure in support of an electronic health record system. INFRAM can easily apply to other implementations; an analytics platform, for instance.

As with other HIMSS measurement models, INFRAM features eight stages (zero through seven). To achieve Stage 3, for example, organizations need a rack/tower/blade server–based computing architecture, end-to-end quality of service and a defined public and private cloud strategy. Stages 4 through 6 address wireless coverage, mobile devices with video capability, on-premises enterprise or hybrid cloud applications and infrastructure automation, among other benchmarks.

At the highest level, organizations should have adaptive and flexible network control with software-defined networking, home-based telemonitoring, and internet and TV on demand. Solid data processing, analysis, governance and security are paramount too. 

The journey to Stage 7 is a marathon, not a sprint, and some organizations won’t get there at all. I recommend taking a hard look at Stages 3 through 7. They’ll give you a good basis for your infrastructure planning — because, after all, you have to start somewhere.

Thinking strategically about your organization’s infrastructure will ultimately enable your organization to fully leverage today’s latest healthcare technologies. Tools such as data analytics and AI will no longer act as barriers and sources of headaches but will instead make way for reduced costs, greater efficiency and increased patient safety.

This article is part of HealthTech’s MonITor blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using #WellnessIT.



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