Healthcare is rapidly changing on all fronts—governing policies, evolving workflows, and emerging technologies. Patty Morrison, CIO and EVP Customer Support Services for Cardinal Health, gave us a glimpse of how she is making sense of it all.
With all the challenges and changes these days, how is technology helping stabilize healthcare?
There is no doubt that healthcare is changing in the U.S. and around the world, and technology is critical to creating value. That value can range from better clinical outcomes to higher patient satisfaction to more efficient delivery of care.
I don’t think healthcare will ever stabilize since there is so much opportunity for disruption. For example, one of the big shifts is a move from pay for procedure to pay for value. Technology can enable that to happen in several ways. It makes it easier for consumers to be aware of the cost and quality comparisons when they need access to care. Technology can enable providers to more effectively share responsibility for patients in accountable care organizations. Analytics can determine the best pathways that deliver better clinical outcomes.
What technological initiatives do you have under way at Cardinal Health?
We have lots going on at Cardinal Health! One exciting area is our investments in commercial technologies that are used by our customers. One of our platforms is Outcomes MTM (Medication Therapy Management) that helps pharmacists connect with patients to ensure they stay on their medication. We offer inventory management solutions to retail pharmacies, oncology practices and cardiology labs in hospitals that reduce waste and improve patient safety. We have solutions for discharge management in post-acute care that help reduce readmissions in acute episodes. These are just a few examples.
We’re also spending quite a bit of time considering how we use technology to create efficiencies within the four walls of our enterprise. Right now, we are building out global supply chain planning to support our recent acquisitions of Cordis and the Medtronic Patient Recovery business. We are re-platforming our Pharma businesses to streamline order to cash, pricing and warehouse management processes. We are aggressively moving our computing to the cloud, adopting best practices in dev/ops and agile and using artificial intelligence to automate IT support to make it faster and cheaper to get IT work done. All of this allows us to keep up with transformation of our businesses.
Has the cloud been the most significant technological change at Cardinal Health?
Well, I can’t say “most” significant but it is a massive opportunity. I’ve lived through transitions from mainframes to distributed computing to browser-based computing. The cloud is the next evolution. Cloud services—specifically PaaS (platform as a service) or web services—let you stand up apps more quickly and manage them without a lot of capital investment in a way that changes how IT operates. These are really big changes for our team that will require them to learn new skills.
Have there been more dramatic changes in the technology driving the business of healthcare or what doctors and nurses use to deliver healthcare?
Both! One of the biggest changes for clinicians has certainly been the introduction of electronic health records that have affected their day-to-day work. But in the future, the exciting disruptions will be in machine learning and genetic analytics that can assist in diagnosis and treatments that are more targeted and personalized to individual patients.
What technologies are best suited to drive the future of healthcare?
I am really excited about technologies that will remove friction from all healthcare experiences for the patient, doctor, nurse, pharmacist. There is so much pressure on cost and we can reduce complexity for everyone if we work collaboratively together. For example, we believe that care must move to lower cost settings like the home where telemedicine, patient monitoring and strong relationships with pharmacies can remove friction that is inherent in hospitals and ER’s. Technology can bring healthcare to the patient in a low-cost way. I am positive that advanced analytics and machine learning enabled by big data and exponentially increasing computing power will automate things we can only imagine today. Can we accurately read images without a radiologist? Can we predict health issues before they happen? Can we eradicate certain diseases?
What changes do you see coming and how will technology help?
Probably the one thing I haven’t talked about is that more technology creates huge upside in healthcare, but it also brings risk. So, one thing I see changing is cybersecurity and privacy considerations in every place we deploy technology in healthcare. Of course, technology can make us better at mitigating new risks too. It is always a balance.
I love applying technology to solving very complex problems and healthcare certainly has a lot of problems. All healthcare leaders need to become technology-based problem solvers so we can disrupt in a place where it is most needed. Exciting times ahead!