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Hardwiring Good Healthcare

Rick Johnson, for HealthLeaders Media, July 15, 2010
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Many see the bright-light potential of finally wiring healthcare organizations across the country, but it is perhaps of greater importance to consider carefully the potential threats of rushing toward health IT transformation.

The federal government is betting some $20 billion that HIT will be a cornerstone of real reform efforts, but it is the granular implementation decisions made at individual healthcare organizations that will determine the near- and long-term results.

Just one of the possible failings comes in the form of healthcare process design. Too many processes have morphed over time as new rules, regulations, standards, and technologies have been lumped into those processes. It can be argued that many healthcare processes have not been designed, but have evolved without the benefit of thoughtful analysis.

Gregory Veltri, CIO for Denver Health, points out this prospect for downfall in the latest publication of HealthLeaders Media Breakthroughs. He shares a concern that the rush to fulfill the provisions of meaningful use will "incent the wrong behavior, and that is to slam clinical systems in without thought about the work flow and the dangers to clinical systems. You know, electronic systems can make bad decisions really quickly, and you can actually hurt patients."

I have no doubt that the people who work in this industry care about patients' health outcomes above any of the countless metrics we use to measure the effectiveness of healthcare. No organization wants to find that its well-meaning efforts to improve HIT have resulted in harming patients by way of automating bad processes.

But it's going to happen somewhere.

That's one of the reasons why we're taking on this complex topic in the latest issue of Breakthroughs: HIT that Enables Quality, Efficiency, and Value. In this free interactive report, we get lessons from four health systems that have been through the HIT journey: Bon Secours Virginia Health System, Hackensack University Medical Center, Trinity Health, and Denver Health

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Executives and caregivers at these organizations offer detailed advice on HIT implementation best practices that include how to:

  • Encourage teamwork
  • Leverage internal wisdom
  • Make HIT easy for users
  • Design for the front end
  • Build for the back end

    Readers can access this new report and past issues of Breakthroughs online. The call for enabling HIT might be long overdue, but that's no excuse to rush in to implementation mistakes. Heed the warnings and advice of those who have experienced the ordeal and have succeeded in using HIT to transform healthcare delivery.


    Rick Johnson is the Editorial Director for HealthLeaders Media. He may be reached at rjohnson@healthleadersmedia.com.

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