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NHIT Week: 4 Leaders on the Value of HIT

September 23-27 is National Health IT (NHIT) Week. A time when our industry highlights the impact of IT in transforming healthcare and advocates for needed changes. This year’s asks revolve around population health, modernizing the public health infrastructure, access to broadband and telehealth, and Social Determinants of Health.

In recognition of NHIT Week, I asked several of our advisors at StarBridge to comment on this year’s NHIT asks and how health IT can make for healthier communities. They emphasized the importance of true interoperability, Social Determinants of Health, broadband and telehealth.

Ann Scott Blouin, RN, PhD works with boards and senior management to improve quality and safety across the care continuum and serves on several boards. She commented on the gaps and importance of true interoperability to improve health care: “The link between improvements in patient safety and quality in health systems and public health care delivery could be significantly improved with the more effective use of technology.  This past year, I had the opportunity to observe how population health and disease prevention efforts weren’t effectively integrated with acute care in both urban and rural settings. Key data critical to effective chronic disease management wasn’t available to clinicians at the other location. Important background on the patient and family couldn’t be communicated across the care continuum and thus integrated into the overall long-term plan for improving that patient’s health. In the world of accountable care, having visibility into all the information can help avoid errors and omissions in care delivery.”

Diana Contino, RN has over 30 years leading performance improvement and technology enabled transformation.  As a leader in population health and care management she knows firsthand the importance of an integrated EHR, robust analytic data and technology to easily view actionable insights. She provided insight on population health efforts:

“Advancing population health is about improving quality and experience and reducing costs / redundancies.  Improving health can’t be accomplished without individuals, health systems and communities leveraging technology and collaborative care models.  Below are a few key technology elements and some recent examples of how our colleagues are using technology to drive population health value.”

Diana shared key elements for your population health strategy:

David Muntz is a principal at StarBridge Advisors working with large and small healthcare systems as a senior advisor. His recent post on Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) outlines the importance of fully knowing each patient. “Social Determinants of Health provide both detail and context that are relevant to both health and care.  Despite the volumes of data collected about a person as they traverse the healthcare continuum, the picture we have of a person is constructed from only a small number of pixels.  The picture is rough and poorly defined.  The more data we collect by including the SDOH, the more pixels we can add to the picture.  The more defined the picture of that person becomes, the better we can respond to their needs.  SDOH not only adds detail, but it provides context which can help us understand how to develop a more personalized approach to both health and care.  Let’s do what we can to gather the SDOH data, refine it, share it, study it, and apply it.  Let’s improve the view of a patient for them, their family, and community, and for the caregiver.  Let’s improve the answer to “Who am I?”

 Carla Smith provides strategic growth consulting for health clients. She understands the motivations, needs, and wants of the health ecosystem and applies these insights with CEOs, boards, the C-suite, and policymakers to make organizations thrive and dominate their market position. She shared her perspective on broadband and telehealth:

“According to Pew Research, we know that only 63% of rural Americans have a broadband internet connection at home in 2019. That equates to 22.2 million people. And, rural residents are increasingly isolated from reasonable geographic access to physicians, behavioral health professionals, outpatient clinics, and hospitals.  This is a dangerous situation that must be addressed.  Fortunately, there are several initiatives underway to make high-speed internet available to more rural residents. Here are two that are of particular interest:

The Airband Initiative: Infrastructure and cost are often cited as barriers to support internet broadband connections in rural areas. To address this, Microsoft set a goal to connect some 2 million Americans to broadband by 2022. In December 2018, because the initiative was progressing so well, the goal was increased – to 3 million Americans in the same time frame.  And, the Department of Veterans Affairs is now partnering in this key initiative because it wants better ways to reach the millions of veterans lacking appropriate access to behavioral and clinical health services.

Foundation for Rural Service (FRS): This group is establishing what they call a Virtual Living Room (VLR) grant program to “support veterans’ communities that lack easy access to VA hospitals and clinics. This program will create local spaces (in places like libraries, churches and VFW halls) that will provide free access to health services for veterans.”

October 7th marks the third anniversary of our launching StarBridge Advisors. In this short time, we have grown to a team of over 30 expert advisors providing interim management and advisory services to healthcare organizations across the country. As industry leaders, we remain committed to advancing healthcare through technology and welcome the opportunity to learn more about how we may assist your organization.

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