It’s no secret that healthcare lags behind other industries when it comes to adopting and leveraging technology. What smart organizations are learning is that the best way to close the gap is to engage with other businesses. OhioHealth is doing just that by participating in an initiative in which leaders from banking, retail, and other areas share best practices in analytics and cybersecurity. It’s precisely that spirit of innovation that drew Michael Elley to the organization. In this interview, he talks about OhioHealth’s learning lab, how his team is preparing for the value-based care world, and the enormous impact that operational ownership can have on a project’s success. Elley also discusses the pros and cons of both small and large organizations, and why he knows he’s in the right place.
- Enterprise analytics roadmap
- “It’s not a switch you can flip.”
- Sharing best practices through the Columbus Collaboratory
- MyOhioHealth mobile platform — “We’re engaging with patients differently.”
- Interacting with patients through virtual health
- Learning from retail
- “The more flexibility we provide them, the better relationship they’re going to have with us.”
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We need to invest more resources from a staffing perspective and identify where those resources need to go and what they need to focus on. In addition, we also need to look at how we can better adopt data governance best practices; we’ve had data governance within the organization, but we think those things can improve.
Yes, this is going to take some time to build, but we’re in a good place to where we’re very financially stable and there is a huge demand for smart data with an organization and we have the support of the senior leaders throughout OhioHealth to help to make this happen.
Some of these organizations have huge helpdesk centers with all sorts of analytics at how people manage and maintain and operationalize and improve their service centers. Those are things we all can learn from. It doesn’t matter if you’re in retail, if you’re in healthcare, if you’re in the financial sector, or what.
The more that we can put into the hands of the consumers, the more power we give them and provide them and the more flexibility we provide them, the better relationship that they are going to have with us and we’re going to have with them.
Gamble: So you’re fairly early along in the process of enterprise analytics (EA), as far as outlining what needs to happen and in what order, and what’s really the most practical.
Elley: It is. We really want to develop an EA strategy roadmap, and so we’re looking at what that looks like and who we need to probably bring in from the outside to do that. We need to invest more resources from a staffing perspective and identify where those resources need to go and what they need to focus on. In addition, we also need to look at how we can better adopt data governance best practices; we’ve had data governance within the organization, but we think those things can improve. Sometimes it can be a struggle to manage our data. So those are some of the three areas that we’re really focusing on: resources, strategy, and data governance, which we think will help us get to a better place.
Gamble: It’s really an exciting area, but one where there’s just so much potential. Is it difficult to try to map out what can be done because there is so much demand?
Elley: It is. Like with anything, it’s not a switch you can flip. This is going to take a few years to build. We’ve looked at some organizations like UPMC and Intermountain. Actually, I just had a conversation with Cincinnati Children’s about their roadmap and what they did and their investment levels. It’s interesting how different organizations took different paths, but everybody’s trying to get to mostly to the same place. So yes, this is going to take some time to build, but we’re in a good place to where we’re very financially stable and there is a huge demand for smart data with an organization and we have the support of the senior leaders throughout OhioHealth to help to make this happen.
One of the other cool things that we’re working on and that we’re leveraging is that within Columbus is that some large employers like Nationwide Insurance, Cardinal Health, and others have joined to something called the Columbus Collaboratory where seven large employers within Columbus are coming together to share best practices and how they do things around two different areas: one is cyber security and the other is enterprise analytics. We’re a part of that, and it’s been interesting to work with companies that have been really successful either in the retail world or in the financial sector. We understand how they’re composed and what kind of procedures they put in place, and then potentially we can leverage maybe some best practices, data models, and those sort of things going forward. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have some of this sort of information sort of the data at our fingertips. So it’s something that’s going on as well right now, and we’re looking forward to seeing how we can gain improvements from that.
Gamble: That’s a really interesting idea just to get that outside perspective. Even if you’re dealing with different concerns, I’m sure it helps to get that outside take and maybe think of some things a little bit differently.
Elley: Some things are different, but some things are the same. Some of these organizations have huge helpdesk centers with all sorts of analytics at how people manage and maintain and operationalize and improve their service centers. Those are things we all can learn from. It doesn’t matter if you’re in retail, if you’re in healthcare, if you’re in the financial sector, or what. There are things we do very similarly, but we can learn from each other. So there are some advantages to it even though we’re not in the same industry.
Gamble: You mentioned before that innovation falls under your purview. I would think that’s another area where you can definitely take some pieces here and there from other industries.
Elley: Absolutely. Right now, we’re really focusing our innovation efforts around the mobile experience. We’ll be releasing soon a new mobile platform called MyOhioHealth that we’re really excited about. It’s going to offer some capabilities that are not available to other consumers or patients within our market. It has a lot of really cool tie-ins with Epic that other healthcare organizations haven’t done. That will be coming up soon; I can’t speak too much to it. But yes, that’s really where our focus is. We know that we are engaging with patients differently and we know it’s going to be in a mobile world.
Another thing is we are looking all sorts of ways to connect from a telehealth perspective, which we’ve dubbed virtual health — interacting more and more with patients. We’ve seen a huge uptick in electronic visits, so messaging back and forth between the patient and a physician. We also have the capability for video visits, although that adoption has not been as quick as the electronic messaging back and forth.
We’ve also deployed new technology around our stroke network. We’re creating a mobile stroke unit where we will have an ambulance-like vehicle that, whenever there is a stroke happening within a certain area of the city, we will actually travel to them. And we will have an MR within the units and be able to administer TPA onsite. So those are some really neat, cool, innovative things that we are working on and that we’re actually deploying.
Gamble: And the eVisit, is done through a portal?
Elley: It’s done through Epic, through MyChart. So for between 12 and 14 different types of potential diagnoses where an established patient can actually message their physician and there is a committed time in which that physician will get back to the patient. If it doesn’t meet the criteria for one of those, of course, there’ll be messaged and notified to go ahead and either schedule an appointment or go to urgent care or go to ER. We trialed that within a few of our clinics and now we are going to be opening that up to all of our primary care physicians. We’re also opening up some online scheduling for our physicians in allowing for that as well, same day appointments.
Gamble: When you talk about engaging with patients differently, I imagine you have some kind of outreach or ways of trying to really figure out what people want, and I think that seems to be kind of a challenge for a lot of organizations. Is there anything you can offer about how your team is trying to stay on top of what the patients want and what they will respond to?
Elley: Yeah, that actually that ties back to the Columbus Collaboratory. When I was talking about retail earlier and the insurance industry, they’ve done a really good job of understanding how to engage their customers — when to ping them with offers, those sorts of things. There’s a lot we can learn from that, and we’re just getting started. How does a retail organization ping their customers or how do they use surveys that they send to their customers — really simple surveys — to glean information that can help them offer different types of things to their customers. We can do the same thing within our environment. So if we know a woman is pregnant, we can reach out to them and offer up this cadre of. So those are some things that we’re looking at right now, and a lot of it can tie back to the Columbus Collaboratory in terms of things we can learn from other industry and how they are targeting their consumers.
Gamble: That’s interesting. Some of this can be a lot more simple than people think of it at just as far as how patients want to schedule appointments. It can be just simple steps that really do improve that engagement overall.
Elley: Absolutely. We think that a good portion of patients, if we opened up schedules, would love to be able to schedule themselves online at the website or using our mobile app, whether it’s for a same-day appointment or 14 days out. We’re even having some dialogue and looking into the possibility of doing that around specialty care in certain instances as well. So yes, I think the more that we can put into the hands of the consumers, the more power we give them and provide them and the more flexibility we provide them, the better relationship that they are going to have with us and we’re going to have with them.