CHIME CIO of the Year Craig Richardville: We want a 'panoramic view' of the patient [Q&A]

LAS VEGAS -- In January, Carolinas HealthCare System launched MyCarolinas Tracker, an app for iOS and Android smartphones that can pull in patient data from more than 70 different consumer devices and then deploy it to the organization's electronic health record.

The app, according to CIO Craig Richardville (right), is a vital cog in Carolinas's ongoing push to get a more holistic views of its patients.

"If I am managing a chronic disease with you or if there's just something you want to do from a health and wellness perspective or maybe as part of [employer] activities or initiatives ... we can now bring that information into your EHR," Richardville, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives' CIO of the Year, told FierceHealthIT.

"Additionally, we're building the algorithms and putting the pieces in place such that normal data just kind of comes into the record as something that you would see as part of interventions. But if you start elevating or trending toward someplace that would require an intervention, we would then go ahead and take the right skillset within a care team to contact you."

In an exclusive interview at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's annual conference this week, Richardville talked about the importance of looking at patients through a panoramic lens. He also shared his thoughts on the data sharing pledge announced this week, which his organization signed, and discussed his priorities for 2016.

FierceHealthIT: Your EHR now is able to consume a lot of data with the launch of your app. What will be the challenges involved with that?

Richardville: The challenge that we're going to have once that starts to become robust is information overload, but that's where the algorithms come into play. There are a lot of pieces on the wellness side where this really makes a lot of sense. People are really becoming more involved and engaged with wearables, both personally and regarding consumer products at home such as a scale or a blood pressure cuff. As those become part of your daily routine, then that information now becomes actually actionable.

One of the biggest challenges of delivering higher quality care overall is, if you take a look at trying to get what we call a 360 view of the patient, the actual EMR that you may have within your healthcare system likely only represents about 30 percent of the relevant information needed to take care of that patient. We've done a nice job of putting together a very robust EMR, but now in the last handful of years, the challenge is: How do you start to fill out the rest of that circle? We focus a lot on interoperability; we've also developed a high quality data enterprise warehouse where consume data for our analytics function.

FHIT: What kind of an impact do you see the HHS data sharing pledge having on the healthcare industry going forward?

Richardville: It's extremely important as we move from the volume-based world to the value-based world, as you go in and out of different providers, for us to be able to share information. The pledge can allow that to happen so we can more or less compete, not necessarily on having access to data, but upon how we actually want to use the data. The more information we can get, the better decisions we can make, the better involved and engaged the patient will be.

FHIT: Last spring, you told us that virtual care would be a big focus for Carolinas for the remainder of 2015; is it still a priority in 2016?

Richardville: Yes. Virtual care is a key component to provide for our population at a much lower cost and convenience in terms of on-demand access. It's attractive to employers because it keeps you possibly at work; you can take 10 minutes to receive a diagnosis and treatment plan versus leaving for 3 hours, entering a facility, going, waiting. Instead of us being a destination center, the patient is going to be a destination center. We're going to bring our services to them. No matter where they're located, they'll have access to the best health, wellness and care.

Also, just the total cost of providing that whole aspect of the care, virtual care becomes a very strategic channel of service that we're able to provide.

We also want to try to be lean and remove waste from our existing processes. Making sure that you have a very low expense structure but a high-value service. There is a balance; you don't want to be the lowest price and the lowest value. We'll probably never be the lowest cost, but we'd be one of the better values.

Editor's Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.