If you ask Myra Davis, there’s a big component many leaders are missing when it comes to leveraging data: education. An organization can have all the coolest tools and technologies, but if clinicians don’t understand what exactly is available and how they can interpret it, the data just isn’t worth much. In this interview, the CIO of Texas Children’s Hospital talks about how her team has dealt with clinician expectations when it comes to data, and how they’re utilizing education and dashboards to help them get the most out of it. She also talks about the work her organization has done to implement an EDW and their plans going forward, how breaking down silos between IS and clinical has helped empower users, her strategy when it comes to fostering innovation, and why still thinks the industry is “a lot of fun.”
- SXSW Pediatric Health Pitch & TMC Think Tank
- “There are so many ideas coming at you.”
- Focus on portals
- Telehealth — “It will give us the ability to spread our wings further.”
- The “gotcha” with having a blank slate
- Health IT today — “Despite the amount of work, it’s still a lot of fun.”
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It was an awesome experience to watch companies pitch their ideas and innovative thoughts on how to enhance care, introducing new concepts to integrate with certain things that already happen in the health care environment. It was really good, I really enjoyed it.
We’re looking at really increasing activation by having provider engagement and determining how best to use the data that we have in the data warehouse to target specific populations via the portal and push education material out, so that’s really exciting.
This is an area we’re still going to pursue simply because it’s a market differentiator and it will give us the ability to spread our wings a little further than brick and mortar. We’re moving cautiously, but we are having diligent actions around it.
It gives us a chance to put new solutions in there, but the gotcha has been retrofitting and ensuring that whatever we put in the new hospital is close to compatible with the existing solutions.
Gamble: Another area I wanted to touch on was innovation, that’s another word that everyone can’t seem to get enough of.
Davis: Oh yeah, that’s another one.
Gamble: But in doing little bit of research, I’ve seen that Texas Children’s is one of the hospitals that took part in the South by Southwest Pediatric Health Pitch competition, and that’s really interesting to me. Can you talk a little bit about that experience?
Davis: Yeah, we have a resource, James Hury. He basically works with providers or researchers who have awesome ideas they are working on developing or they’re working with a small company, or he works with small companies who don’t have a great deal of funding but they want to work with a very large organization like Texas Children’s. So I blame all this on James. James came to me — he comes to IT often and basically he bounces ideas off of us or he wants to know ‘Hey guys, are you working on anything like this? I have this company, it’s willing to fund something or they want a fund to start up — are you willing to put some resources on it?”
So he comes to me about South by Southwest. I’d heard of it before, and I said, ‘Sure, why not? Never did it before, but sure, we’re up for it, let’s do it.’ And I will tell you, it was an awesome experience to watch companies pitch their ideas and innovative thoughts on how to enhance care, introducing new concepts to integrate with certain things that already happen in the health care environment. It was really good, I really enjoyed it. We’re going to do it again this year.
We walked away from that one and James said, ‘you’re signed up.’ I said, ‘I had a great time; it was fun.’ We were judges and listened to the different pitches.
We actually did something similar in the medical center. The Texas Medical Center has sponsored a Think Tank innovation camp and James sort of liaisoned between that group and us once again. So it’s not in our group. He sits in a different group, but we work very closely together as if he was a part of the team.
Gamble: Right. I’m sure the Think Tank must get some pretty interesting pitches because it doesn’t have to be this huge idea; it can be, this is a way that we can do one thing in a better way.
Davis: Yeah. The range goes from small to highly complex. It’s a little bit of everything, and you really need somebody full-time because there are so many ideas coming at you. If I just equated it to how many emails I get in one day of a great idea, it’s like, oh my god, there’s no one to sustain that.
Gamble: Yeah, exactly. You could put it all in a folder somewhere but obviously going through it is another thing. That’s really interesting to me because, like we said, there’s a lot of talk about the word innovation, but sometimes you wonder how you can actually take these ideas and turn it into something. That’s very different than just having a buzzword and saying, ‘this is what you should be doing. You guys need to innovate.’
Gamble: I can imagine there are a lot of different things going on. What else would you say is really big on your plate right now?
Davis: Patient experience is huge as well. We’re looking at self-scheduling, direct scheduling, promotion, payments — the ability to pay co-pay via the portal. We’re looking at really increasing activation by having provider engagement and determining how best to use the data that we have in the data warehouse to target specific populations via the portal and push education material out, so that’s really exciting.
We’re also looking at e-health, that’s our umbrella for telemedicine, teleconsults, etc. We’re looking to take that to a next level. We dabbled in a little bit here and there, but despite the fact that the State of Texas hasn’t yet signed up for reimbursements, this is an area we’re still going to pursue simply because it’s a market differentiator and it will give us the ability to spread our wings a little further than brick and mortar. We’re moving cautiously, but we are having diligent actions around it. Those are probably two big areas that we’re definitely looking to accelerate and extend a little further for us.
Gamble: For telehealth, is it geared towards any particular area like chronic disease management or is it just more to a larger umbrella at this point?
Davis: Right now, it’s a pretty large umbrella. We’re determining exactly what specific areas we’re going to target. We know we want to do something with our affiliations around NICU and have the ability to do visits via e-health. We also know we want to go the sickest of sick population to see how we provide a level of care for them in the home before coming into an emergency center, so we have an opportunity there. So we’re still exploring exactly where to do that.
We’re also looking on campus because we have about 70 physical locations, so we want to also look at how can we triage better with teleconsults and not having to transport patients if we don’t need to.
So we’re looking internally as well and that’s pretty exciting. We’ve been challenged to say, we’re going to do this — let’s do things to help ourselves out, as well as look to partner and extend our brand.
Gamble: So when you’re talking about partnering, you mean both with other providers?
Gamble: And you have an organization that seems like it’s constantly expanding too, between urgent cares and another hospital being built?
Davis: That’s correct, yes.
Gamble: So just that little project too?
Davis: Just a little project.
Gamble: And is that something where it’s being built from the ground up, so you’re talking about a blank canvas?
Davis: Yes. The medical practices will open in 2016, and the hospital will open in 2017.
Gamble: That’s something I can imagine is always a great opportunity from the IT perspective of not having to deal with any of the retrofitting, but just going in new.
Davis: Yeah, we actually like these opportunities because you can’t go by the old technology — nobody will sell it to you. And so it gives us a chance to put new solutions in there, but the gotcha has been retrofitting and ensuring that whatever we put in the new hospital is close to compatible with the existing solutions in the event they need to communicate with each other. So that’s been a little gotcha for us in some cases. We did the Get Well Entertainment Center in our new hospitals. And what we realized we didn’t have that same experience for our patient at existing hospitals, so we had to go and retrofit it. So it can be costly. It’s a decision that the leaders have to make. We really are trying not to do a lot of that, but depending on the solution, that actually can happen without you trying to make it happen.
Gamble: That’s interesting because those are things you don’t necessarily think about right away.
Gamble: Okay. Well obviously you guys have a lot going on, and I really appreciate your time and your perspective. It seems like the philosophy there is to never stop learning and don’t be afraid to reach out, and I think that’s important in this day and age.
Davis: It really is, and it’s proven to be very, very beneficial. You know, despite the amount of work, I will say it’s still a lot of fun, but I like technology, so I’m a little biased. But it’s still a lot of fun. You get to really help the organization grow and hit the market a little faster than normal, but it still comes with its challenges.
Gamble: Yeah, definitely. I appreciate your perspective and I really believe our listeners and readers will, too. So thanks so much for taking some time to speak with me. I appreciate it and hope to see you in person soon.
Davis: Yes, thanks, Katie.
Gamble: Sure thing, I’ll talk to you soon.