Health system informatics team reboots

There is more data than ever before in healthcare, and technology is powering care delivery transformation. Patients and caregivers will benefit greatly from expanded access to care, more seamless decision-making and tools to reduce administrative burden on clinicians.

But to deliver on all of the changes, health IT and informatics teams need to evolve.

Hershey, Pa.-based Penn State Health has been converting to secure texting as a primary platform, eliminating dictation through ambient technology, and deploying their platform across two new hospitals as well as converting systems at two other hospitals and hundreds of clinics.

"That's incredible heavy lifting, and you can't do that without a great team," said Chris DeFlitch, MD, vice president and CMIO of Hershey, Pa.-based Penn State Health on a recent episode of the "Becker's Healthcare Podcast." "What we try to do, at least in our informatics team, is to build a structure by which we can manage and handle change, and do it efficiently and effectively, but also do it across the system."

Dr. DeFlitch created a new structural design for the informatics team to harness multiple informatics councils focused on different functions. The system has local affinity groups as well in the west shore, eastern, central and northern regions of the community, and each group has their own contingencies of informatics staff.

All groups report up through Dr. DeFlitch. The new design allows requesters to have their questions managed in a timely fashion and implement new great ideas quickly. Then the truly great ideas are scaled systemwide.

"You have to have the structure in place to have the decision makers and empower those decision makers to move forward," said Dr. DeFlitch. "We built the informatics governance structure for the system that allows us to do just that."

The medical records team recently started reporting to Dr. DeFlitch as well, which is a new opportunity to find further efficiencies by implementing a similar structure as the informatics team.

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