How IT is Powering the Next Wave of Healthcare Innovation

Guest post by Joyce Mullen, vice president and general manager, Dell OEM Solutions.

Joyce Mullen
Joyce Mullen

Technology is rapidly transforming the healthcare industry and the way we approach patient care, as organizations adopt the latest solutions in mobility, data analytics, Internet of Things and cloud computing. From telemedicine to wearables to 3D printing to alternative communication techniques, this is truly the golden age of healthcare innovation.

Through our OEM Solutions group, we are proud to be providing the underlying technology and services that enable so many inspirational companies make a real difference in people’s lives through healthcare innovations. Two examples I am really excited about are HealthSpot, which is developing a network of private kiosks equipped with two-way, high-def video screens enabling patients to interact directly with remote physicians; and Prentke Romich, which created a revolutionary device that helps people with disabilities communicate effectively. Rooted in these innovations is IT and the need for security, efficiency and reliability.

Connecting patients with physicians … virtually

We all know that visiting the emergency room for a health issue can be a frustrating experience, with long waits and impersonal service being the norm. But HealthSpot, an Ohio-based telehealth company founded in 2010, is offering a convenient and game-changing alternative. The company has introduced the HealthSpot station, a freestanding private kiosk equipped with a two-way, high-def video screen enabling patients to interact directly with remote physicians. Patients inside the station can be weighed on a built-in scale and use a thermometer, otoscope, magnascope, blood pressure cuff, stethoscope or other medical devices, with information and images transmitted electronically and securely to the physician. Physicians can then make a diagnosis and write prescription on the spot.

So far HealthSpot has installed stations in urgent-care facilities and hospitals, along with four test markets in retail pharmacies in Ohio and are expanding rapidly. As the company continues to scale, Dell is working with them to build a well-integrated IT infrastructure that includes hardware, software and services. Plans include more than 10,000 stations across the U.S. in the next few years, so be on the lookout for a HealthSpot station near you.

Developing language through technology

Prentke Romich Company (PRC) is the worldwide leader in the development of assistive technology and augmentative communication (AAC) solutions for people with severe disabilities. The company is committed to helping individuals achieve their greatest potential by delivering intuitive communication solutions that are focused on language development.

When PRC wanted to introduce a Windows- and tablet-based AAC solution, it faced a critical challenge: finding the right technology. Children with disabilities already face perceptions and bias, and they don’t want assistive technology that makes them look even more different. In a world of iPads and other sleek devices, their products needed to be as aesthetically pleasing as possible. The product also needed to be responsive and high performing enough to handle PRC’s Unity language system.

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The Future of the Connected Healthcare System

HIMSS organizers, in preparation of the annual conference and trade show, and as a way to rally attendees around several trending topics for the coming event, are once again asking the healthcare community how it feels about several key issues that are likely to resonate. As is often the case with this ongoing experiment, the folks in my position — those with a venue to voice their opinions who tell the rest of us what they think — pontificate on the potential impact of these trends.

Certainly, some of my fellow journalists are far better qualified than I to answer the questions posed by HIMSS with any level of authority. Therefore, I’ve given my small microphone to readers of this site so they can voice their opinions of the topics that conference goers are likely to hear about dozens of time while in Chicago.

This year HIMSS is asking what we feel will be the future of: the connected healthcare system, big data, security, innovation and patient engagement. Today, here, we focus on the future of the connected healthcare system, and what several insiders believe that future to be.

With that, enjoy and let me know if you agree with the following thoughts. If not, why; what’s missing?

Tom Bizzaro, vice president of health policy, First Databank

Tom Bizzaro

We’re hoping that the electronic health records (EHR) interoperability movement follows a trajectory similar to that of e-prescribing. To start, as an industry, we have to universally acknowledge the value of interoperability within healthcare IT systems. Indeed, sharing data across systems can help to improve care quality and efficiency in the country’s health system and lead to success of value-based reimbursement models. However, all players – providers, payers, patients and vendors alike – need to truly embrace the value EHR interoperability, putting it above any proprietary concerns.

Then, we need to get to work. We must continue to develop and implement a wide range of standards and vocabularies. Through these, we will ensure that our data is in synch and that systems will always be speaking the same language. Perhaps most important, we need a National Patient Identifier, which will make it possible to match information to specific patients as they traverse the health system. And, while it might seem like doing all this work will take a long time, if we roll up our sleeves and do what’s required, the EHR interoperability story will be on its way to its own happy ending soon enough.

Jonathan Isaacs, executive vice president and general manager, surgery solutions, SourceMedical

Jonathan Isaacs
Jonathan Issacs

It’s 3:00 a.m. and you wake up with an acute pain in your side that won’t go away — you head to the ER. The CT scan shows nothing — you head to the GI specialist. The doctor says to get an endoscopy — you head to the ASC. The endoscopy says you have a chronic condition that will need to be managed by you, your PCP, and even more specialists. Where does all that data live? Everywhere!

It’s a changing world out there. From cancer centers to freestanding Emergency Departments, healthcare organizations must deliver quality care at lower prices. But information collected at different points can fall through the cracks, putting the patient at risk. That’s why data interoperability is a critical issue.

The solution is not to put every entity in the healthcare value chain on the same closed, monolithic EHR that tries to do everything.  We have seen time and again what happens when innovation is stifled and vendors become “too big to fail.” But by embracing connectivity standards, providers and patients alike can leverage best-in-class tools purposely built for specific treatments and outcomes. The easier it is, the higher the likelihood of success. And isn’t that the whole point?

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