Intermountain's strategy for a 'digital workforce'

Health systems at the forefront of digital transformation are using technology to boost the workforce and patient decision-making.

Leaders of the future will eventually look to healthcare as the gold standard in digital transformation, says Craig Richardville, chief digital and information officer of Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Health, but for now the cutting-edge leaders are applying principles from other industries to catch up.

Mr. Richardville, joined the Becker's Healthcare Podcast at the 13th Annual Meeting in April to talk about the big trends in healthcare and how digital transformation is boosting the workforce.

Note: This interview is lightly edited for clarity.

Question: What are you most excited about right now?

Craig Richardville: I'm most excited about the future. We're at a pivot point for the healthcare industry in order to truly shift from being a healthcare delivery system to being more of a technology company that delivers healthcare. As you've seen some of the new entrants and retailers come into play, technology, data and digital are all big parts of how we want to move the industry forward.

Q: What are you spending most of your time on right now?

CR: We have a direction more focused on simplicity. The issues for me would be the complexity that we've built into our healthcare journeys, the complexities we've built into some of the bureaucracies that we have with some of our regulatory requirements that we have to deploy, and so to simplify how we interact with patients and consumers, and how we work with our health members are all components of simplifying the environment for healthcare.

Then you look at our caregivers, both hands-on caregiving as well as the support teams. It's complex and we really need to simplify that.

Q: What is the most effective thing healthcare leaders can do to be successful in the next two to three years?

CR: The first is to just be curious. The healthcare leaders of the future will continue to ask questions to learn and learn from other industries, and bring those learnings into healthcare. At some point, the things we do in healthcare will be stolen or taken to other industries, but at the moment we really have to start asking a lot of good questions to figure out what we need to simplify the environment we've created.

Q: Can you share any strategic partnerships, best practices or resources that you're using to ease the burden of workforce challenges?

CR: The product I'll highlight is Microsoft's ambient intelligence, which comes from Nuance. That has great promise to both our providers and our caregivers. We've deployed this technology over the last several years and gotten great results in time savings for our caregivers. Providers on the physician side have saved up to 30, 60 and in some cases 90 minutes a day by having the documentation created based upon the conversation.

It's an interpretation of the conversation that creates their medical notes and suggests a diagnosis. We're also looking to take that and expand it soon into the nursing environment to impact the large workforce.

It's important for us to provide some of that relief and hopefully bring the joy of practicing medicine back. That would start to lean us toward what we term a digital workforce truly using the machines that many other industries already have used and have that help the workforce we have in place on the human side.

When you look at the digital pieces of what we're creating, we're giving patients the power to make decisions and have that power right in their pocket. If they need a caregiver or have a question, or if they need to investigate any type of medical condition to stay healthy, that all comes in an app that's in their pocket.

The power of the patient is an important part of our future.

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