3 questions with Lenovo Health's Dr. Bob Monteverdi on health IT innovations that enable clinicians to seamlessly access and share patient health data for more efficient and effective care

Inside and outside the health system, clinicians must collaborate, regardless of any roadblocks that may stand in their way. However, it is undeniable that technology has transformed patient care and paved the way for improved care coordination.

What’s more, these technologies are only becoming more advanced, and they continue to make care collaboration easier than ever.

With tools like virtual desktop infrastructure, clinicians can access patient data in the same format from anywhere in the hospital or anywhere in the country. With video conferencing capabilities, providers in underserved communities can remotely connect with experts, view the same patient data and make informed care decisions that produce better patient outcomes. And, secure messaging enables teams to share care plan updates while complying with HIPAA.

Existing tools have already taken care collaboration to new heights, but as technology and access to digital data continues to improve, collaboration will only become easier. Hospitals must stay at the forefront of new technologies to provide the best possible care.

Becker's Hospital Review caught up with Dr. Bob Monteverdi, global healthcare solutions leader at Lenovo Health, to discuss the obstacles to care collaboration and how hospitals are using technology to help providers work more efficiently; achieve reliable, secure and standardized clinical experiences; and better engage the care team in delivering remote patient care to improve outcomes and patient satisfaction.

Question: What are some technology tools hospitals are using to improve care collaboration?

Dr. Bob Monteverdi: Hospitals are focused on leveraging IT as the foundation for more secure, timely access to patient data. That way, clinicians can make decisions about patient care efficiently and effectively. For example, mobile devices, such as a tablet or notebook, along with laptops and workstations, can enable a hospital-based physician to securely access a patient's health data and then communicate easily with a patient's primary care physician or a specialist who make up the care team collaborating on the best course of treatment.

Additionally, IT can support advances such as digital signage to help with wayfinding so patients or their families can easily navigate the hospital. This technology can even help with communications related to patient capacity and workflow. If a patient is in the operating room, digital signs can alert families in the waiting room by a patient code that provides updated information on where the patient is currently located in the hospital and the status of the procedure. This is a great example of IT used to support care-related communications between clinicians and a patient's family, which can help alleviate anxiety and angst among loved ones and make the hospital experience more positive overall.

Another strong example of IT supporting care collaboration is in telehealth — a rapidly growing area of care delivery. IT solutions such as video conferencing promote care collaboration between patients and clinicians when patients are outside the hospital such as video conferencing with a patient and care teams. Telehealth is especially impactful in areas where access to care can be difficult.

The backend hospital IT infrastructure, which is invisible to the consumer, enhances care collaboration as well. This ensures the hospital has a high-speed, secure wireless network capability for patients and clinicians so data is exchanged timely, accurately and securely. A hospital's IT infrastructure must also support core systems such as the EHR and other health IT systems that house the patient health record. Hospitals must invest in the right IT infrastructure to ensure these systems continually operate at the performance levels needed for optimum care delivery.

Q: How are those tools leading to better patient outcomes?

BM: If hospitals have timely information exchange, they have increased clarity and collaboration — both among care teams and between clinicians and patients — so clinicians are able to leverage all the patients' data and make better, more informed care decisions. This also supports patients making better decisions about their own care. In other words, technology can empower consumers to become their own advocates as we continue to move forward in the world of V2V (volume to value) based care.

Hospitals have realized they must continue to deploy IT to provide top patient care at the best value, operationally, and to improve patients' overall satisfaction. It's an ongoing evolution, but hospitals are getting there. This has been unfolding for a few years now, and we expect this technology transformation for care collaboration to continue.

Q: What are the biggest obstacles to care collaboration?

BM: One barrier to collaboration between different health systems is data standardization or interoperability. Another significant obstacle within hospitals is communication. Health systems don’t always have the proper technology and tools in place to facilitate safe and secure communication. It's not uncommon for hospitals to complete many of their processes on paper or with other nonelectronic modes of communication, such as using whiteboards to denote providers' assignments instead of capacity management or patient workflow tools. The opportunity to overcome the communications challenge is to invest in new technology. While these tools may not completely eliminate the potential for miscommunication, they can mitigate some of the risks so physicians and hospital administrators can more easily work together and avoid potential mistakes in patient care.

To learn more about how healthcare organizations can prepare for the new patient as a consumer, register for Becker's Virtual Health IT Summit Nov. 6-8, 2018 here.

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