4 ways to optimize health IT

To truly optimize systems, healthcare organizations will need to move out of traditional silos and work in multidisciplinary teams to achieve workflows and processes that are streamlined and supported by IT, according to a report from the Scottsdale Institute.

At its Spring Conference CIO Breakout session in April, chief information officers from 13 leading healthcare organizations discussed healthcare IT optimization.

For the most part, they agreed that too many organizations are looking for IT to drive optimization, while it actually has more to do with people and processes.

The CIOs generally agreed that revenue cycle and human resource optimization projects are easier because there's more standardization and greater acceptance of standardization. Meanwhile, clinical processes can involve technically unnecessary but culturally protected variability in clinical workflows from site to site and between providers.

Most organizations don't have systems or processes in place to rapidly deploy enhancements, particularly when the bulk of the enhancements are related to workflow changes, according to the report.

Four takeaways from the session on improving optimization include:

  1. Work with senior leadership to create an organization-specific definition of optimization
  2. Prioritize optimization processes based on the organization's vision and strategic goals
  3. Develop methods to quickly differentiate between the need for more support and training vs. support for workflows or true need for IT changes
  4. Develop key performance indicators to measure the success of your optimization efforts

Researchers and clinicians need to team up to fully describe the workflow, information needs and communication processes required for health IT to effectively support clinicians' needs, according to an article published last month in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.

A new workflow optimization system piloted at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center clinic analyzes physician and nurse tasks and then assesses which tasks organizations could assign to support staff. It's credited with allowing physicians to see more patients while also helping patients avoid preventable return visits, FierceHealthcare reported.

To learn more:
- read the report (.pdf)

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