When the Center for Connected Medicine polled CIOs, CMIOs and CNIOs from 38 healthcare organizations recently, it found that their top three concerns for 2019 are cybersecurity, virtual health and interoperability. It went on to say that in the New Year, IT executives are hoping for larger budgets for cybersecurity staff and education, reimbursement for virtual health programs, and greater innovation when it comes to interoperability of multiple systems. This survey made me wonder: Do you know what’s on your IT executives’ wish list?
In my conversations with health IT leaders, they tell me what they want most is to get more out of their investment in electronic health records, while saving time for their clinicians. Now that 96 percent of U.S. hospitals have EHRs, it’s no surprise that CIOs, CMIOs and CNIOs want to make the most of the technology they have invested in so heavily. To do that, clinical and IT leaders need to enable other clinical systems to tap into the enormous amount of patient information stored in the EHR.
While the EHR is a powerful system that lays the foundation for collection of patient data, documentation, billing and insurance, it can’t do everything. In fact, many physicians and other clinical staff continue to struggle with incorporating new EHRs into the way they work. (A recent New Yorker article by Dr. Atul Gawande, “Why doctors hate their computers” is the latest in a long string of stories lamenting the difficult transition to a new and often cumbersome process.)
So it makes sense that interoperability is top of mind for 2019. It also makes sense that health IT leaders are looking to Voalte Platform as a critical integration with EHRs from all the major vendors to streamline real-time clinical communication, enhance care team collaboration with exclusive roles and teams, and send prioritized alert notifications directly to the appropriate caregiver. By integrating with the valuable information in the EHR, Voalte Platform leverages the patient’s name and treatment teams so nurses can instantly find the physician caring for each patient, and send a quick, secure message to request pain medication or report a change in a patient’s condition. From within the various EHR apps, nurses and others can launch Voalte Platform and automatically send a secure text message or make a voice call with one swipe to collaborate on patient care.
To keep communication quick, keep it out of the cumbersome EHR.
While some suggest clinical communication should be part of the EHR, the leaders I speak with believe that while the frequent, real-time text messages and phone conversations between caregivers are integral to patient care, they should remain separate from the legal medical record.
Anyone who has ever documented patient care in the EHR will tell you there are numerous places within the system to store information. With a spot for physician notes, progress notes, sticky notes and more, where would clinical communication be stored? There’s also the issue of voice communication. Voalte Platform is so powerful because it offers multiple ways to communicate, rather than a simple secure texting app. To keep communication quick, keep it out of the cumbersome EHR for clinical optimizations and audits when needed.
As a recent story in Advance Healthcare stated, “By integrating smartphone platforms and apps with data from EMRs, biomedical devices, and hospital pharmacies and laboratories, hospitals empower caregivers to be more connected, informed and responsive to patient needs.” Last week’s blog post by Dana Peco, MSN, BSN, CCRN, also pointed out, “When communication is disjointed and nurses are juggling multiple technologies, it’s not only difficult to collaborate efficiently with the rest of the care team, it also takes a toll on efficiency and nurse satisfaction, with patient care suffering as a result.”
To me, it’s no secret what’s on health IT executives’ wish list: 2019 will be the year to make the most of your electronic health records, and a powerful communication platform is a vital part of making that a reality.
Daren LeCrone is Area Manager at Voalte.