How Lima Memorial Health System responds to differences in patients' technology tolerance: 3 Qs with CIO Matthew Gaug

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Healthcare organizations are constantly learning about their patient populations — from new services patients want their hospitals to offer to how patients interact with the digital tools hospitals provide them.

One key trend affecting hospitals nationwide is the shift from patient to consumer. Patients today want seamless, convenient interactions with their healthcare provider, just as they experience in retail, hospitality, banking and several other industries.

In advance of the Becker's Virtual Health IT Summit Nov. 6-8, 2018, made possible by Lenovo Health and Intel, Becker's Hospital Review caught up with Mathew Gaug, CIO of Lima (Ohio) Memorial Health System, to learn how the 25-facility health system that serves a 10-county area is meeting patients' changing needs.

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

Question: What's one thing you learned about your patient population that really surprised you?

Mathew Gaug: The most surprising aspect of our patient population, when it comes to engagement and technology, is the vast number of patients who are polar opposites in regards to their technology tolerances. For example, one portion of our population wants absolutely nothing to do with engagement technology. They still insist on paper copies of their charts, test orders or prescriptions.

The exact opposite is true for the other portion of our population, which is requesting mobile check-ins, wearables, patient portals, online education and paperless everything. There is a surprisingly small amount of our patient mix in between the two groups. I was expecting to see a more of the population in the middle, not one side or the other.

Q: What technologies does your organization use, or is considering, to enhance the patient experience?

MG: We are looking to adopt more mobile technologies to enhance the patient experience. We have started a partnership with Healthgrid, and we are looking to implement new ways for mobile check-in, appointment scheduling and instant patient surveys. We are also looking at using better call center technology for the portion of the population that chooses not to use our mobile scheduling — we want to make it as easy as possible to get into our specialty and family practices.

Q: What is your organization's No. 1 strategy to improving care collaboration?

MG: Our No. 1 strategy is to optimize our EMR so it is easier and faster to collaborate on patient care. We are also looking at using artificial intelligence to improve the pre-authorization process, leveraging technology platforms to allow more access to the EMR, and identifying better ways to use health information exchanges.

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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