Improving Care Delivery Through IT Modernization
Missy Mitchell is the President for Leidos Digital Health Solutions (LDHS) for the Leidos Health Group, bringing best practices and standards to the commercial healthcare industry. During her 20-plus-year career, she has worked across multiple defense and civilian agencies, providing strategic IT sourcing and acquisitions support for both internal and external customers. Mitchell discusses how modernization is the key to improving care and cost.
WHAT CHALLENGES ARE HOSPITALS AND HEALTHCARE SYSTEMS FACING AS THEY LOOK FOR SOLUTIONS TO IMPROVE CARE DELIVERY?
Mitchell: Many hospitals and health systems have antiquated data centers and equipment. They have invested heavily on implementing electronic medical records over the past decade, resulting in delays of many technology initiatives. Those organizations want to catch up now, so there’s a major effort now on renovating and getting systems ready to move to the cloud. Their digital transformation journey begins with updating and upgrading their current infrastructure.
A common challenge all healthcare entities are working to address is the exponential increase in data produced by, or introduced into, their organization. They have so much data but are still struggling to organize it in a way to make meaningful decisions that improve patient care delivery and position the organization for effective population health management. They want to be innovative, but many are limited by inefficient operating models and/or technologies.
So I think it’s finding the trade-off between scale and being able to improve outcomes. That’s a significant challenge and one that’s getting more pervasive as the industry puts pressure on providers to lower their rates and transition to value-based care models.
HOW ARE ADVANCEMENTS IN HEALTHCARE MODERNIZATION IMPROVING MEDICAL EXAMS, INTEROPERABILITY, AND CLAIMS PROCESSING?
Mitchell: Healthcare organizations are experiencing some improvements in predictive analytics and are starting to use genomic data as well.
In improving medical exams, voice recognition is helping physicians gain more time with patients in both exam rooms and operating rooms. I’m not sure if there’s enough data yet to know if it’s actually improving the actual exam itself. But voice recognition is giving physicians more eye-to-eye contact with their patients, and that is certainly improving the patient experience.
Telemedicine is also contributing to patient experience improvements. Technology advancements have made this forward-leaning concept a reality over the past couple of years. Patients will increasingly find themselves presented with the option to receive their care, or care for a dependent, in a more efficient and personalized manner through telemedicine. And we know, engaged patients are typically healthier, happier, and linked to a lower cost of care. As health systems move to increase digitalization, they are increasing opportunities to share data across platforms and help their doctors deliver improved patient care.
And in the era of value-based care, nothing could be better. From a processing perspective, there’s a greater ability to streamline and process claims faster. From a health system perspective, predictive analytics is helping provider organizations understand what the outliers are and how to predict claims outcomes. And by using last year’s claims data, they can not only predict and ensure they are staffing correctly, but also estimate the risk scores associated with each of their patients and doctors.
, President, Leidos Digital Health Solutions
To achieve modernization, organizations need to develop and commit to a technology roadmap that leads to a limited and common platform for core needs in EMR, revenue cycle, ERP (enterprise resource planning), and imaging capabilities.
WHAT SHOULD BE THE CHIEF FOCUS OF ORGANIZATIONS SEEKING TO MODERNIZE THEIR HEALTHCARE STRATEGIES AND CARE DELIVERY?
Mitchell: To achieve modernization, organizations need to develop and commit to a technology roadmap that leads to a limited and common platform for core needs in EMR, revenue cycle, ERP (enterprise resource planning), and imaging capabilities. At Leidos, we’re working with several health systems with 40 or more versions on an electronic health record. Whether it’s prescription data, patient scheduling, years of patient history, or family history—all that information currently lives in silos. It’s extremely difficult for any health system to ever maximize on its investment without consolidating. Our initiative with these clients is to migrate all of those record systems to a single solution, allowing these health systems the maximum benefit of efficiencies gained through operational consistency and data utilization.
Without consolidation, there are wasted costs, and these organizations have expressed a resolute commitment to get out of the “just continuing as is” spiral. However, only the larger health systems can make that investment to truly transform. The smaller ones will continue to be stuck in time. That discrepancy is one of the reasons we continue to see mergers and acquisitions in the healthcare space.
IS THERE A LEADING-EDGE SOLUTION THAT CAN HELP HEALTHCARE ORGANIZATIONS BOTH MAXIMIZE PROFITS AND OPTIMIZE PATIENT CARE?
Mitchell: I think many health systems are discovering that the cloud isn’t the end-all be-all for everything. I think having that one solution that can take data—whether it’s coming from Epic, Cerner, Athena, Allscripts, or Meditech—and putting it into one language is a pivotal solution.
Perhaps more important and more available than a leading-edge solution, is the value and impact of a well-thought-out enterprise strategic plan that incorporates IT as a critical component to overall success. In parallel, em-bracing a commitment to data as the “key” to patient care and organizational performance, and not best-of-breed solutions. Doing so positions organizations to move toward a limited and common-solution portfolio, which in turn promotes optimal data utilization and management.
WHAT QUALITIES SHOULD HEALTHCARE ORGANIZATIONS LOOK FOR WHEN EVALUATING A POTENTIAL IT SERVICES PARTNER?
Mitchell: They should look for a systems integrator that can pull multiple systems together to eliminate data silos. They should look for a partner that can scale, and obviously one that holds the qualifications and experience they need. At Leidos, we’re exceeding all of our service-level agreements. So, I think finding a partner that does what they say they’re going to do, exceeds customer expectations, and proactively positions their clients for success, is what all IT partners should strive for. That’s what we do here at Leidos.