To improve outcomes, choose IT projects wisely

For hospital providers and executives, the ability to align various technology initiatives in order to reach multiple goals can help solidify a facility's reputation as an IT leader. Officials from Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare and the Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic showed attendees at the ninth annual World Healthcare Congress in Washington, D.C. this week, why their hospitals remain ahead of the curve.

For Stanley Huff, M.D., chief medical informatics officer at Intermountain, when choosing which initiatives to pursue, the focus is on outcomes. 

"There could be 1,000 things that the Meaningful Use people could say are useful and good and they truly would be good. I don't know of any of the measures that we've approved or talked about approving that wouldn't be good," Huff said. "But when I started looking at the list of other things that were competing internally with those, I can see a bunch of things that we're doing internally that would be more important for patient safety than that measure and more important just for communication of information within our organization."

Huff added that while it's often times hard not to "chase the money" in terms of meeting Meaningful Use, his organization's guiding principle is to make sure there's a need for every initiative.

"We don't want to do things not in the best interest of the organization just to get incentives," he said.

Meanwhile, Farris Timimi, M.D., medical director for the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, talked about how social media has been leveraged to improve patient care, as opposed to simply marketing the facility. While Mayo's social media efforts initially started off as marketing efforts, according to Timimi, they've since matured far beyond that.

"We should be there, online, putting out good content," Timimi said. "If we're not, someone else will, and the content might not be as good."

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