Transforming Healthcare Information Systems to Meet Emerging Needs

Healthcare information systems have grown up in the fee-for-service era. So, just like people who grew up “way back when,” they might be just a bit uncomfortable with the ways of the new world. After all, these systems are hard-wired for an entirely different reality.   

Indeed, the first wave of information technology – Health 1.0 – included primarily administrative systems that focused on transactional processes and the business of healthcare. Then, health information technology migrated toward clinical applications during what can be considered Health 2.0, the IT era that the industry is currently in.

“We are now using clinical applications but these systems were still developed in the fee-for-service world, so they are not meeting all or our needs,” says Barry Chaiken, MD, CMIO at Infor, a New York City-based business application software vendor. “We have lived the past six decades in an environment that was volume based. And, everything we did was based on the assumption that more is better.”

“But as value-based purchasing becomes the norm, we are realizing that many of these EHR systems were designed for a different master,” Chaiken says. “These systems were designed to optimize coding in the fee for service world.  But now we need systems to focus more intently and directly on patient care.”

As a result, healthcare information systems must evolve to the next stage. To do so, healthcare organizations will need to modify their current information systems to meet new goals. More specifically, these systems will need to focus more directly on the patient care experience -- improving satisfaction and care outcomes to succeed under value-based purchasing.

During this era, which will be known as Health 3.0 according to Chaiken and Infor, healthcare organizations might turn to information technology systems that utilize social media tools to zero in on enhancing patient care.

For example, visual timelines, similar to those found on Facebook, could also be used to present patient information in an EHR. As such, clinicians could review the timelines for a couple of minutes and quickly have a good idea of the patient’s situation and needs. There would be no need to dig through an electronic or paper file to piece together the patient’s “story.” The end result: The clinicians could quickly and expediently address patient needs, which would then lead to improved outcomes.

In addition, EHRs could leverage asynchronous text messaging to streamline workflow within organizations. For instance, instead of forcing staff members to deal with a series of frustrating phone calls and voice mail messages, an electronic health records system could actually send text messages to needed parties when a patient is in need of a service.  Here’s how it could work: If a patient is supposed to get an x-ray after finishing an IV medication, the EHR, which would be connected to the IV pump, could simply send all the caregivers a text message when the patient is ready – eliminating multiple rounds of phone tag. As such, the entire patient care experience could be improved, making it possible for organizations to succeed under value-based initiatives.

Infor is planning to help healthcare organizations add this type of functionality into their healthcare information systems mix with Ming.le, a comprehensive platform for social collaboration, business process improvement, and contextual analytics, transforming the way a care delivery organization will stay ahead of the game. Ming.le is a solution that provides social media concepts that work in a professional environment. The solution marries communications with business processes to help professionals work smarter and faster.