Directions on Health IT and Clinical Computing

WP_000038No matter your role in healthcare – doctor, nurse, clinic administrator or hospital executive – your head is probably spinning over the pace of change in the industry. If it isn’t you just aren’t paying attention. The practice of medicine is changing with more and more clinicians becoming employees of hospitals or large clinic groups. Pundits are predicting the extinction of solo practitioners and small group practices. Politics aside, the entire business model of healthcare is likely to experience a seismic shift that looks more and more like managed care compared to today’s fee-for-service model. Finally, the healthcare industry has reached a tipping point in its transition to the digital age. Not only is the business demanding it but both consumers and clinicians, more and more of whom are now digital natives, expect nothing less from an industry that literally has our lives in its hands.

This week I had the pleasure of delivering the luncheon keynote at the annual meeting of the Washington Oregon Medical Group Management Association. Due to its size the meeting itself was held at the Portland Convention Center. However, the official meeting hotel was The Nines in the center of downtown Portland. If you are looking for a great hotel with an modern art deco vibe, I can highly recommend The Nines. 

WP_000034Across the street from the Nines Hotel and the Pioneer Courthouse is a public square. Besides sporting a beautiful floral display in its center, the square offered a sign that pretty much sums up my theme for this particular blog post. Are you getting the directions you need to successfully navigate all of the changes taking place in healthcare?

In my MGMA keynote, I focused on how advances in information technology and the “consumerization of IT” have become forcing functions for revolutionary transformation in the industry. As a worldwide business traveler, I expressed my concern that America has fallenWP_000031 behind many other industrialized countries in the use of contemporary information technology in health and healthcare. I also cautioned my audience to focus more broadly than just on the electronic medical record. While the EMR is absolutely essential as a foundation for the digital transformation of healthcare; it is just that - a foundation. If you expect that it will fix everything that needs to be done in your clinic or hospital you will be sorely disappointed. The true transformation of healthcare comes from what you do next with the digital data you accumulate and how you use that information that you now have at your disposal for clinical and business analytics, workflow improvement, care team collaboration, and patient engagement.

Cloud computing, innovative devices and other advances in technology will place powerful new capabilities into your hands that were previously available only to the largest public and private organizations. Consumers too will have information and technologies at their disposal as never before. You can either embrace these new technologies and use them to improve the ways you engage with the people you serve, or those same technologies may be turned against you as consumers use them to find what they need without you. The choice is yours.

The best healthcare organizations are steadfastly preparing for this brave new world by embracing all things digital and planning for the future well before it arrives. If we can help, let us know.

Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft

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