How healthcare providers can adopt the best solutions for their organization

Jared Sorensen, the vice president of revenue cycle solutions at 3M Health Information Systems (3M HIS), believes the healthcare IT ecosystem often operates like a swinging pendulum.

The pendulum swings both ways, with the industry historically oscillating between the viewpoints that everything needs to move to the EHR and the notion that the best of breed solution is necessary for each point of care.

According to Mr. Sorensen, the ideal set of solutions are those that work best in combination. He thinks healthcare providers should adopt a cluster of interoperable solutions that are right for their organization's needs.

Below, Mr. Sorensen discusses how 3M HIS navigates the swinging pendulum of the healthcare IT landscape.

Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Question: 3M sits at an interesting crossroads within the healthcare technology and IT fields, offering products that help clinicians at the point of care, identify and address CDI opportunities, streamline coding and ensure billing compliance. How do you see 3M continuing to thrive among EHR systems and the broader healthcare/IT space?

Jared Sorensen: We really do operate in an interesting position, connecting workflows from the point of documentation capture all the way to the point of a final coded record. In this position, our partnership with EHR systems is crucial. We strive to be interoperable and capable in any EHR system, whether the major acute systems or practice management systems at the local physician’s office. 

This is especially true where there is an EHR that's both clinically and financially driven, and our coding solutions operate right in the middle. We are that translation tool of the clinical to the financial, and thus we need to play a Switzerland role. Our goal is to continually develop close partnerships with our EHR partners to understand their workflow and their solutions, and how our workflow can be complimentary and interoperable. 

As healthcare IT continues to evolve, this interoperability will be the key. One system won't do it alone, and so it's important to partner wherever possible to work well together for the customer.

Q: How is 3M approaching healthcare's shift toward the cloud?

JS: We are migrating our solutions to be fully cloud native and capable, and we're doing it by working closely with our partners who are making that same transition. When we work with our EHR partners, as they're moving to the cloud, we're changing our legacy interfaces to more cloud-based APIs with the goal of increased agility and flexibility between systems. We hope to do that both with our partners as well with our customers.

Customers really wanted to focus on care delivery and try to eliminate some of the administrative overhead. In many instances, IT resources to support on-premise solutions seem to be slipping. The ask is, "Can I have a software solution that can handle all of that IT support and everything in a cloud operation?" IT resources generally are in high demand in provider organizations and, where they can offload some of that to a cloud-based solution, they absolutely want that as an option going forward.

Q: How does 3M view big technology companies' disruption of healthcare?

JS: There are still problems to solve in healthcare, so it is only natural that big tech companies are bringing their tools and solutions from other industries to help solve them. In most instances the big tech companies—AWS, Google, Microsoft—will provide the cloud hosting platform. But they are also providing tools and infrastructure that existing healthcare companies like our own or new startups are taking advantage of to build a better future with them. We really see it as another area for partnership and an opportunity to lift all boats as big tech comes and becomes a natural part of the healthcare system.

Q: Many healthcare organizations utilize risk adjustment methodologies created and maintained by 3M. How do those relationships work?

JS: We have a team of highly qualified clinical and economic experts who focus on the accurate and fair measurement of payment and quality in healthcare. We have been able to package these models as a calculation component that can be used broadly by provider, payer and vendor partners, many of which are actually our competitors. 3M HIS sees it as critical, though, that  we all work together in this healthcare space to find ways to standardize payment and measurement. That ultimately means we engage in a wide range of partnerships in the use of our methodologies for public and commercial health plans.

In this context, 3M HIS is not just interested in the workflow for revenue cycle in healthcare. We're interested in the actual policy of healthcare and the economics of healthcare that will be the most effective over time. This brings us into a unique position, one that has facilitated our partnerships with providers, both public and private payers and other vendors across the industry.

Q: When it comes to building new tech products, how does 3M work with its customers?

JS: Customer validation of what you're doing and the problem you're solving has to be the No. 1 focus.Having that customer input is paramount to our existing product set and any future product set that we want to develop. We work with customers early and often, both in new product concepts and a projection of a strategic product roadmap for existing solutions. We want to show our customers what the next three to five years will look like so they know what to expect down that road and that we are aligned in our objectives.

On a tactical level, as we build and develop new products, we select alpha and beta customers to validate the workflow as well as the value of the content that goes into the full solution. We have a handful of strategic provider partners who have broad adoption of our existing solutions. As we have new product ideas, we take it to them and determine whether it adds value to what we are already doing or can solve an existing problem—that's really our testing ground. Once we’ve validated product performance at an alpha and beta level, we widen it out to a set of early adopters.

When we confirm a product will be effective for a much wider market segment, we launch out to the broader customer base. We find this staging is the most effective in being able to deliver the best solution that can be effective out in the marketplace.

Ultimately, 3M HIS aims to advance healthcare, and recognizes that the best path to accomplish this is through partnerships of all kinds, the first and foremost being with our customers.

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