Technology plays an increasingly critical role in healthcare, and it’s not just the devices used to deliver care. The technology supporting the sweeping changes in healthcare management is equally dramatic. Matt Chambers, CIO at Baylor Scott & White Health, is at the forefront of that fundamental shift.
What have been some of the most significant changes to healthcare management driven by technology advancements?
One of the biggest changes was the Meaningful Use mandate that drove the adoption of electronic health records. It created challenges that are both cultural and operational. The Meaningful Use mandate requires provider order entry, which means the physician entering patient data in the Electronic Health Record, usually during the patient encounter. They no longer write on paper charts. Electronic medical records result in better long-term patient care and better overall outcomes and we have to ensure the technology is optimized to make the best use of provider time.
Have changes in the structure of healthcare been more of a driver for technological change, or has technological change driven changes in healthcare?
It’s actually going both ways – a bit of Yin and Yang. There’s a fundamental shift from fee-for-service to pay-for-performance. Instead of being paid for what they do, providers will be reimbursed for patient outcomes. It’s up to the provider and healthcare coordination team to deliver high-quality care at the lowest possible cost with best outcomes. Technology is evolving to support this change.
Certainly in this current climate, we can expect changes to the structure of our country’s healthcare. What role do you see IT playing in implementing those changes?
At BSWH, we want to reduce costs while improving patient outcomes. The back office is a great opportunity. There’s still a lot of manual processing and lack of automation in healthcare, so we have a lot of room for improvement there. We’re also adapting to pay-for-performance models; a holdback or reduction in payment if there’s a readmission within a certain time frame. So, we’re taking a more proactive approach. Technology gives us the data to identify areas for improvement in these patient outcomes.
Safeguarding healthcare information is certainly a significant factor in modern healthcare. How do you see technology’s role in protecting this information?
Over last couple of decades, information security has gone from an afterthought to a primary concern. The black market for PII (Personally Identifiable Information) is enormous. A recent Forbes article noted that the going rate for a your social security number is worth about 10 cents. A medical record can be worth up to thousands of dollars because it can be used for Medicare fraud. Patients entrust us with their care and privacy – maintaining that trust is imperative for all healthcare organizations.
Do you feel there have been more significant developments in healthcare management technology or the technology used to actually deliver medical care?
I believe advancements are being made in patient-facing technology. When it comes to medical care technology, if someone just woke from 100-year nap, it would blow their mind. Considering x-ray’s were invented in 1895, the technological advancements we have today robotic surgery, remote monitoring, 3D printing of body parts, and genomic sequencing-are staggering. In a few years, your genome sequence will become part of your medical record. I predict that eventually, we will have a personal health score or rating that will impact anything from care plans to insurance costs and analytics will be able to predict outcomes long before a patient has symptoms.
What impact do you expect technology to have on the healthcare landscape over the next few years?
Patient care will continue move to the most appropriate care site, and we will focus more on care coordination. We’re managing patient populations across an integrated care delivery model to ensure we are caring for them more proactively, so you’ll see an accelerated shift and more technology used to coordinate moving patient care to the most appropriate setting. Technology and operational changes will support that model, but those changes are huge and not to be underestimated in their complexity.