5 Ways To...

Karen Wagner

Providing connected care is about not only using IT systems to support care delivery, but also integrating disparate systems, functions, and processes. Here, Keith J. Figlioli, senior vice president of healthcare informatics with the Premier healthcare alliance, presents five strategies for collaborating to achieve more connected care.

Use IT to support constructive dialogue between physicians and healthcare administrators. Leading healthcare organizations have created an infrastructure that supports dialogue between those responsible for maintaining clinical quality and those responsible for maintaining financial resources. "The result is a seamless fabric of care that reduces or eliminates the tension that often exists between these distinct but equally critical roles," Figlioli says. One way to achieve this dialogue is by using actionable data that both administrators and physicians can relate to, appreciate, and respect.

Share IT expertise with other health systems-and borrow IT capabilities from their organizations as well. For example, health systems in a single market often invest in the same expensive piece of technology, such as a surgical system, which bleeds market share and can result in a poor ROI. One alternative is for hospitals to specialize in certain clinical areas, then share their IT expertise in that area with other organizations in their market. "This strategy better serves the market and helps contain costs as utilization rates are put under the spotlight and as reimbursement declines," Figlioli says.

Focus on improving communication at the point at which care is handed off to another facility or team of caregivers. "These transitions are often where details are missed and mistakes are made," Figlioli says. An IT system that is coordinated and integrated, in which communication flows unencumbered and unnecessary duplication is eliminated, can enhance collaboration among all those involved in a patient's care. Such collaboration will become even more important as shared risk payment models increase.

Help clinical users become more proficient in using technologies to support value analysis. As utilization becomes a target in healthcare reform, clinical users should become more adept at using tools for value analysis to maintain cost efficiency. Meanwhile, supply chain managers should become better educated on the clinical protocols required to maintain quality. Collaboration between clinical users and supply chain in developing these skill sets will help marry quality-of-care goals with cost-cutting strategies.

Collaborate with other healthcare organizations in urging manufacturers to develop IT systems that can "talk" with systems made by other manufacturers. This strategy contributes to the creation of an improved environment in which data can be passed easily among healthcare organizations. "Integration of systems across different healthcare organizations provides a linking or connection of data that can lead to faster decision making and better outcomes," Figlioli says. "If one hospital's information system can send and receive data to and from the system at another organization, for example, adverse reactions to a specific medication can be more easily tracked, preventing critical care situations."

Karen Wagner is a healthcare freelance writer, Forest Lake, Ill. (klw@klw.ms). 


Publication Date: Thursday, March 01, 2012

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