Many of us in the health industry have the same goals for the “hospital of the future.” We need to improve the quality of care, enable better patient outcomes, operate at lower cost, and positively impact the overall health of our communities, all while providing a seamless customer experience for patients and their providers.
That’s a tall order, but not an impossible one. I discussed an important step toward these goals this past week at the HIMSS17 conference.
Hospital systems across the country are creatively implementing innovative technologies that will fundamentally change care delivery. One of the key ingredients for this shift will be better utilization of the cloud. As a health system CIO, I know that the very thought of migration to the cloud can send up yellow flags. Adopting a new technology can be a daunting task for any business sector and especially challenging for the health care industry. But as technology, service delivery, and health care innovations are taking off at lightning speed, at some point we all must embrace new tools to unlock the future.
Our organization, San Francisco-based Dignity Health, recognizes that the cloud is one of many tools needed to build the “hospital of the future,” and have started small, but important steps toward cloud-based systems.
First, it might be helpful to take a step back and think about the impact cloud computing can have for our patients. Patient privacy will always be our top priority, but cloud computing allows us to build a digital home for patients. Imagine a world where a patient can access their health information on their mobile devices to help them make informed decisions about their care. It can also allow health systems to utilize big data in a meaningful way by enabling predictive algorithms to be built into work flows, improving the quality and consistency of care. These meaningful impacts have the potential to help us transform patient-centered care.
Like many CIOs, I was selective when moving to cloud-based systems with inevitable questions about the security, ease of migration, compliance, and even how to find a cloud service provider (CSP) that understood healthcare and patient privacy issues. So we started small. We chose a CSP that had a proven track record in the industry. We initially identified low-risk projects with non-critical applications that had redundancies already in place; therefore, even if the project didn’t go as planned, we wouldn’t negatively impact patient care in any way. As we moved through the process, we built trust with our first CSP.
Our migration to the cloud has been a deliberate, thoughtful process. Now that we have laid the foundation work with our EHR migration to Cerner, our biggest success to date has been through our SAS/Big Data Enterprise Data Warehouse, where we have embedded clinical predicative analytics directly into the clinical workflow to avoid patient sepsis. Without the support of the cloud environment our time to deliver this critical clinical goal would have been extended significantly.
We have also been able to make progress with other goals:
- Implementing secure direct messaging using the ClearDATA cloud for protected communication between Dignity Health and our patients.
- Building Clinically Integrated Networks for community-based physicians to manage and share patient data in a secure environment.
- Enabling our patients and their doctors to securely transfer PHI to the Barrow Neurological Institute’s Second Opinion Program, one of the busiest neurosurgical centers in the world.
- Providing AirStrip Fetal Monitoring which utilizes inpatient and outpatient EMR data to extend delivery of specialty care while maintaining contact with patient data in near-real-time.
Our journey to the cloud continues with a strategic roadmap that incorporates the needs of our patients, clinicians, and business. Technology is only as effective as the service and teams that support it. The hospital of the future is exciting, and there is no better time to be a part of health care technology.