What’s Next for Digital Acceleration in Healthcare?
For many years, the electronic health record has been considered the center of healthcare, but that’s starting to change.
“What we’re finding is that we all need that core technology, and it’s certainly going to sit at the center, but a lot is happening in the patient-facing side and how people engage in their own healthcare,” said Dr. Stephanie Lahr, CIO and chief medical information officer at Monument Health. “We’re really going to have to look at other tools, and probably the most exciting thing is that it feels like those tools are finally ready for prime time. We’re seeing developments in automation and ambient technologies that can really help our clinicians deliver care and our patients be engaged in it.”
Lahr explained that the reality for many years was that technology was seen as a burden for many in healthcare, but that’s starting to change across the board, for everything from care delivery and decision support to revenue cycle management.
During the pandemic, Dr. Zafar Chaudry, senior vice president and chief digital and information officer at Seattle Children’s, said his organization saw a heightened level of digital acceleration among both clinicians and patients, but in pediatrics he and his colleagues noticed a level of inequity that hadn’t come to light before.
“Not all of our patients have access to hardware and the right internet connections,” he said, adding that addressing the problem required out-of-the-box thinking, such as creating a loaner program for devices.
How Healthcare IT Teams Can Overcome Workforce Shortages
Clinician and support staff shortages have created challenges for healthcare organizations across the U.S. This, coupled with a large percentage of employees working remotely since the beginning of the pandemic, has forced healthcare leaders to approach their employees in new ways.
Chaudry explained that 80 percent of his staff works from home, and many of those employees don’t have adequate space or are juggling work with homeschooling their children, caring for pets and nursing loved ones.
“There’s high productivity from people working from home, but we’ve seen a large challenge with human interaction,” he said. “Many IT professionals are introverts, but they still need a level of human interaction. Leadership has had to change how they check in with teams since you can’t just stop by someone’s cubicle while at work.”
A major challenge he’s noticed is that people easily take on more work but are hesitant to let leadership know when they need help or support.
“We’ve been looking at how we can engage people in a different fashion,” said Chaudry, adding that he’s had to share his own feelings to get people to open up about theirs.