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Delivering high quality healthcare

Measure, improve, measure again

I continue to be amazed by the magical thinking that is swirling around electronic medical records. On one level, I completely understand it. A hospital or clinic invests tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of millions, of dollars in electronic medical record software or a hospital information system. With that kind of money on the line, and all of the pain that comes with the implementation and training required, one would want to believe that as a result healthcare delivery has been transformed and quality will suddenly improve. However, that is rarely the case. All you’ve done is capture what used to be held on paper and made it available in electronic, digital format. It is indeed the foundation for what you need, but not the house. As I’ve said so many times before here on HealthBlog, “it’s what you do next that counts”. How do you use that now digital information to gain insight about what is happening in your organization and the patients you serve? How do you measure what you are doing so you know what to improve? How do you continuously monitor what is going on clinically, financially, and even in staff and patient satisfaction to drive quality improvement at every level in your organization? Trust me, your shiny new EMR or HIS won’t do that for you.

All of this becomes even more complex, yet rich with opportunity, as we enter the age of genomics. And having just come from a conference about consumer devices and wearable biosensors, what will we be able to do with all of that data? You also know all too well that both public and private payment systems are realigning to reward you not on volume, but value. But to prove value, you have to have a baseline and then be able to demonstrate that you are doing a better job, and often at lower cost, compared to your competition.

Recently, I had an opportunity to sit down with some of my peers from other companies to have an open conversation about the present and future opportunities to improve health and healthcare quality using computerized tools and solutions for business intelligence and analytics. In part one of this panel discussion, hosted by Intel Health & Life Sciences General Manager Eric Dishman, Dr. Graham Hughes of SAS, Dr. Andrew Litt from Dell, and I discuss genomic data and how high performance computing and personalized medicine is making big data actionable. Watch for additional clips from this discussion over the next few weeks as the panel addresses healthcare costs, big data, and wearable technology.