Where Bet­ter Pa­tient Care Meets the Bot­tom Line

In­no­va­tions in health­care IT make it eas­ier for providers to serve pa­tients while sav­ing money

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Not long ago, health­care in­volved lit­tle more than a pa­tient see­ing a physi­cian who kept hand­writ­ten notes of the visit in a manila folder, and re­ceived pay­ment at the time of ser­vice. Not any­more. To­day, in­stead of the sim­ple doc­tor-pa­tient re­la­tion­ship of the past, health­care is col­lab­o­ra­tion-ori­ented, with mul­ti­ple

stake­hold­ers—providers, clin­i­cians, prod­uct de­vel­op­ers, in­sur­ers, em­ploy­ers, pa­tients and pa­tient-ad­vo­cates—with mu­tual in­ter­ests. And be­hind the scenes, the IT side of the in­dus­try has been key to in­te­grat­ing and im­prov­ing health­care.

“All of those per­spec­tives need to be pre­sented,” says H. Stephen Lieber, Pres­i­dent and CEO of HIMSS (Health­care In­for­ma­tion and Man­age­ment Sys­tems So­ci­ety), the global not-for-profit fo­cused on bet­ter health through in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy. “Our view is that you re­ally need all of th­ese in or­der to get the best an­swers. Be­cause if you’re bas­ing an­swers only on one com­po­nent, you’re miss­ing the oth­ers, and that pro­duces gaps in knowl­edge shar­ing.”

Mod­ern med­i­cal test­ing and pro­cesses now pro­duce mas­sive amounts of data on a daily ba­sis in the form of pa­tient records and charts, X-rays, PET scans and MRIS. The guid­ing prin­ci­ple here is that the more in­for­ma­tion care­givers have, the bet­ter care they can give pa­tients. The chal­lenge, how­ever, is that this vast amount of data must be not only trans­mit­ted

to mul­ti­ple fa­cil­i­ties and work­sta­tions, but ac­cessed and di­gested by teams of physicians, clin­i­cians, di­ag­nos­ti­cians and hos­pi­tal staff of­ten far re­moved from the pa­tient, from the ini­tial care provider and from one an­other.

“If you’re a spe­cial­ist—say, an or­tho­pe­dic sur­geon—and you need ac­cess to doc­u­ments and im­ages from a pa­tient’s chart from a hos­pi­tal’s emer­gency room from three nights ago, how do you ac­cess high-res­o­lu­tion files that are a thou­sand times larger than they used to be?” asks Steven Deaton, Vice Pres­i­dent of Health­care IT Sales at Kon­ica Mi­nolta. “All of a pa­tient’s data counts. If you don’t have the whole pic­ture—if you have 90 per­cent of the in­for­ma­tion you need, but not the other 10 per­cent—that brings the ef­fi­ciency and the ben­e­fits of the 90 per­cent down.”

For­tu­nately, in­no­va­tions in health­care IT are mak­ing it much eas­ier for health­care providers to share and ac­cess cur­rent pa­tient in­for­ma­tion, while sav­ing time and money, and avoid­ing mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion and er­rors.

A Plat­form That De­liv­ers Speed and Ac­cess

Ac­ces­si­bil­ity and speed of in­for­ma­tion trans­fer have be­come health­care buzz­words in re­cent years, and Kon­ica Mi­nolta is at the fore­front of in­no­va­tion in th­ese ar­eas.

Last year, Deaton’s group launched Kon­ica Mi­nolta’s Exa PACS/ RIS/EHR Plat­form, a pack­age of cus­tom­iz­a­ble tools that en­able health­care or­ga­ni­za­tions to man­age work­flow and the in­te­gra­tion and trans­fer of high vol­umes of data to mul­ti­ple fa­cil­i­ties. Thanks to new cod­ing tech­nol­ogy, the com­pany can quickly de­liver enor­mous files to re­mote users with­out re­sort­ing to down­loads, cacheing, rout­ing or for­ward­ing—and as eas­ily as log­ging on to an e-mail ac­count from any server and in­ter­net-speed con­nec­tion.

The Exa Plat­form bridges the gaps among ra­di­ol­ogy, IT, soft­ware man­u­fac­tur­ers and the rest of health­care in­for­mat­ics, with pa­tients’ charts all con­fig­ured in one place. The plat­form also ad­dresses the work­flow needs spe­cific to ra­di­ol­o­gists—spe­cial­ists who had been siloed for many years.

“In ra­di­ol­ogy, his­tor­i­cally,” ex­plains Deaton, “you had to have a fixed client on the ra­di­ol­o­gist’s work­sta­tion, a night viewer on an ipad, then two dif­fer­ent user pass­words for two dif­fer­ent web­sites, or dif­fer­ent ap­pli­ca­tions to open, in or­der to ac­cess im­ages. We thought we should mas­sage the ex­pe­ri­ence so it’s stream­lined and ef­fi­cient for them—strip­ping out the use­less tools and steps to give them what they most need, and in a fa­mil­iar way.”

This ini­tia­tive is im­por­tant for Kon­ica Mi­nolta, given that ra­di­ol­ogy ranks se­cond be­hind only car­di­ol­ogy in prof­itabil­ity. But just as im­por­tant is the com­pany’s com­mit­ment to health­care providers and their pa­tients.

“Doc­tors who run back and forth among mul­ti­ple hospi­tals need to be able to read im­ages and dic­tate re­ports about their pa­tients from out­side their of­fices,” Deaton notes. “With the Exa Plat­form and mo­bile app, they can ac­cess records from any work­sta­tion in­clud­ing a smart­phone, then dic­tate, save and send re­ports.

“Frankly,” he adds, “physicians are our prin­ci­pal user and we care about them, but we’re giv­ing them this strate­gic ad­van­tage to pro­vide more ef­fec­tive care to their pa­tients. In re­al­ity, it’s 1 per­cent about the physi­cian and 99 per­cent about the pa­tient.”

Keep­ing Health­care Data Se­cure

At the same time that health­care IT is mak­ing life eas­ier for hospi­tals and staff, it some­times ap­pears to have left pa­tient records and in­for­ma­tion vul­ner­a­ble, as sev­eral high-pro­file health­care data breaches have hit the head­lines in re­cent years.

Four years ago, Ex­pe­rian, a leader in credit risk and re­port­ing, saw op­por­tu­nity in the elec­tron­i­fi­ca­tion of health­care data, on both the clin­i­cal and busi­ness sides. “Ex­pe­rian has a strong his­tory around au­then­ti­ca­tion and iden­tity man­age­ment,” says Jen­nifer Schulz, the com­pany’s Group Pres­i­dent of Ver­ti­cal Mar­kets, “and we no­ticed a num­ber of dif­fer­ent things hap­pen­ing in the U.S. health­care sys­tem that called for our ser­vices.”

One is­sue is the in­creas­ing fre­quency of se­cu­rity breaches in­volv­ing health­care data sys­tems; in fact, in the last two years, health­care has be­come the No. 1 source of data breaches. Ex­pe­rian Health has put what Schulz calls “in­dus­trial-strength so­lu­tions” to work on providers’ on­line por­tals—in­clud­ing the com­pany’s Pre­cise ID fraud de­tec­tion and preven­tion plat­form, for con­sumer iden­tity ver­i­fi­ca­tion, that is in­te­grated with Epic, Allscripts and other health in­for­ma­tion sys­tems. On the provider side, Ex­pe­rian Health’s Iden­tity Man­age­ment so­lu­tions en­sure that doc­tors have the most rel­e­vant, cur­rent and com­pre­hen­sive in­for­ma­tion for man­ag­ing, match­ing and pro­tect­ing iden­ti­ties.

Serv­ing an­other im­por­tant front in the health­care space, Ex­pe­rian Health of­fers its patented ecare NEXT , a Touch­less

® Pro­cess­ing™ sys­tem to cre­ate more ef­fi­cient, ac­cu­rate and pro­duc­tive work­flows that also helps man­age rev­enue cy­cle func­tions, from order­ing tests or pro­ce­dures to sched­ul­ing ap­point­ments, to billing and pay­ments.

“Most of the in­vest­ments in health­care over the past five years have been fo­cused on clin­i­cal soft­ware and ser­vices, and EMRS, with min­i­mal in­vest­ment in the fi­nan­cial ap­pli­ca­tions used in the pa­tient-ac­cess and rev­enue-cy­cle de­part­ments,” says Scott Bag­well, Pres­i­dent of Ex­pe­rian Health. “In ad­di­tion to ex­pand­ing our ecare NEXT plat­form with in­te­grated work­flow for the rev­enue cy­cle,

® we’ve ex­panded our core ca­pa­bil­i­ties to in­clude iden­tity man­age­ment, pop­u­la­tion well­ness and pa­tient en­gage­ment so­lu­tions to help health­care or­ga­ni­za­tions make smarter busi­ness de­ci­sions, bet­ter un­der­stand their fi­nan­cial per­for­mance and strengthen their bot­tom line while en­hanc­ing the pa­tient pay­ment and care ex­pe­ri­ence.” Ac­cord­ing to Bag­well, Ex­pe­rian Health’s so­lu­tions are cur­rently used in over 3,000 hospi­tals and by more than 100,000 physicians.

“The trans­for­ma­tion of health­care is all about try­ing to achieve a bet­ter world in terms of pa­tient ex­pe­ri­ence and the re­duc­tion of er­rors.”

—H. Stephen Lieber

Cur­ing the Breach Epi­demic

Kon­ica Mi­nolta has also jumped into the se­cu­rity fray by help­ing health­care cus­tomers man­age the doc­u­ment life cy­cle and mul­ti­func­tion devices on the net­work.

“Ob­vi­ously, keep­ing a physi­cian’s or hos­pi­tal’s pa­tient in­for­ma­tion se­cure is im­por­tant, but un­for­tu­nately, data breaches have be­come epi­demic,” ob­serves Joe Cisna, the com­pany’s Na­tional Health­care Mar­ket Man­ager. “And that con­cern is am­pli­fied by reg­u­la­tory ad­her­ence due to stepped-up com­pli­ance re­quire­ments that are part of HI­PAA [the Health In­sur­ance Porta­bil­ity and Ac­count­abil­ity Act] and the HITECH [Health In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy for Eco­nomic and Clin­i­cal Health] Act. There’s so much value in pa­tient med­i­cal records to­day that it has sur­passed the value of credit cards or So­cial Se­cu­rity num­bers, lead­ing to record breaches af­fect­ing more than 100 mil­lion peo­ple in the past cou­ple of years.”

In the past, there have been cases where a health­care or­ga­ni­za­tion’s mul­ti­func­tion de­vice was re­tired with­out san­i­tiz­ing the hard drives, putting pa­tient data at risk. How­ever, Kon­ica Mi­nolta se­cure ser­vice helps en­sure that the se­cu­rity ca­pa­bil­i­ties of its devices are en­abled and op­ti­mized, and that sen­si­tive pa­tient in­for­ma­tion is kept con­fi­den­tial.

Kon­ica Mi­nolta has ex­panded its so­lu­tions and ser­vices to in­clude prox­im­ity card au­then­ti­ca­tion and ad­vanced au­dit log soft­ware to more ef­fec­tively se­cure and track pa­tient data ac­cess and us­age of its mul­ti­func­tional print­ing devices; launched HI­PAA Con­sult­ing (risk as­sess­ment) Ser­vices; opened five Kon­ica Mi­nolta Busi­ness In­no­va­tion Cen­ters tasked with de­vel­op­ing new-hori­zon health­care tech­nolo­gies for its cus­tomers to im­prove pro­cesses, re­duce costs and im­prove se­cu­rity; and cre­ated an ad­vi­sory coun­cil to work­shop ideas and en­vi­sion fu­ture so­lu­tions.

Con­sumers and the Fu­ture of Health­care

Mean­while, con­sumerism has been driv­ing the tech trend to­ward mo­bile and home-mon­i­tor­ing devices. While early ad­vance­ments have mostly in­volved well­ness and fit­ness track­ing devices, new and in­no­va­tive prod­ucts al­low pa­tients to track their own med­i­cal con­di­tions and eas­ily re­port the in­for­ma­tion back to their physicians and clin­i­cians. The re­sult is a re­duc­tion in doc­tor vis­its and health­care ex­penses. This is es­pe­cially rel­e­vant for those with chronic con­di­tions—a high-cost pop­u­la­tion that, ac­cord­ing to HIMSS, rep­re­sents some 20 per­cent of pa­tients, who con­sume some 80 per­cent of an­nual health­care costs.

“The most im­por­tant point we try to make is that there is a di­rect and high cor­re­la­tion be­tween the adop­tion and use of tech­nol­ogy and the im­prove­ment in the out­comes of pa­tient care,” says Lieber. “The trans­for­ma­tion of health­care is all about try­ing to achieve a bet­ter world in terms of pa­tient ex­pe­ri­ence and the re­duc­tion of er­rors. Tech­nol­ogy is not the only com­po­nent in mak­ing th­ese things hap­pen, but it’s a sig­nif­i­cant one, and it’s the piece of the puz­zle we’re en­gaged in.” — Tom Con­nor

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