Photography by Jesse Ditmar
Clinicians’ feedback has driven additional features, including access to records beyond the EMR, showing risk scores and predictions, and viewing radiology images from a mobile phone.
Initiatives like this track the emphasis on digital health, says Samantha Burch, director for health IT policy for the American Hospital Association. “We see a growing focus on improving the consumer experience through digital access technologies,” she adds.
Northwell’s ultimate vision is for Teams to be the primary clinical collaboration platform, not only facilitating timely access to information from the EMR, but also empowering shared communication about a patient’s needs.
Moving forward, in addition to viewing data, clinicians will also be able to securely capture notes and even place orders during rounds — not only from EMRs (the way it works now), but also bidirectionally, from clinicians to the EMR, Lu says.
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“It would be awesome if we can use this to enable clinicians to also place orders, and those orders would automatically transact into the EMR and expedite through the downstream,” she says.
Currently, Northwell has more than 50,000 employees on Teams, but its initial deployment focused on physicians, to further secure communications and enhance collaboration. In December 2021, following a rollout of mobile devices to nursing staff, Northwell will pilot Nora in Teams to coordinate care at shift changes.
“It’s the same sort of information that nurses now talk through or hand off on a spreadsheet,” says Lu, adding that the upgrade has been extremely well received. “This is a game changer for them.”
Nora in Microsoft Teams is relied on for important processes across the health system, including facilitating informed patient transfers by automating a summary of a patient’s care needs for the providers involved and ensuring all members of the interdisciplinary team share the same understanding of a patient’s needs during discharge planning.
Northwell is also assessing a predictive model of the patient experience that will incorporate patients’ feedback while they are still in the hospital, allowing staff to address concerns proactively.
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Comprehensive coordination leads to more holistic care, Lu says, giving clinicians, patients and families the 360-degree views they need to achieve the best outcomes.
The trend toward IT solutions that integrate information from multiple sources is moving providers closer to that goal, Burch adds.
“Hospitals and health systems are continuously investing in new and innovative technologies and platforms that allow for patients to access a more comprehensive view of their health and healthcare and provide clinicians more efficient access to information at the point of care,” she says.
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