MedStar Health's IT projects on the table for 2021

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Scott MacLean, senior vice president and CIO of MedStar Health in Columbia, Md., said he anticipates executing several high-level IT projects in the coming year.

The pandemic placed several IT efforts front and center for healthcare organizations nationwide. Mr. MacLean joined the Becker's Healthcare Podcast to share his ey priorities today and what he sees on the horizon.

To hear the full episode, click here.

Question: What are your priorities today and how do you see them evolving next year?

Scott MacLean: Our priorities have been in the COVID-19 response. We've been investing in our recovery, building back up our ambulatory and elective surgical volumes and taking advantage of strategic opportunities. We were recently able to increase our urgent care footprint in the region, and as you might imagine, COVID-19 response has required building out ICUs for increased capacity and other areas, testing areas, and now, vaccine sites. During this time we have made well over 500 changes on our EHR, and it has been important for guiding the clinical care flows in response to the disease.

In conjunction with the Army Corps of Engineers, we helped roll out the [temporary hospital in the] Washington, D.C., Convention Center with hundreds of beds and full EHR capacity. That took place about three weeks earlier. We are moving forward with several huge projects this year that we had delayed in the spring of the past year because of COVID, including our EHR deployment at our 10th hospital, as well as oncology and maternity functionality in the EHR.

We are also completing the rollout of a next-generation clinical handheld device. This is one that is going to provide bar code medication administration, smart pump programing, specimen collection and additional communication features, like secure texting and cellular communication. This device is Android-based, so we plan to add other apps, like secure image capture, and I feel like the clinicians are enthusiastic about this because there is a lot of convergence on a single device that is very mobile. It's like a smartphone, so they are very happy about it.

During the COVID-19 crisis, because we had to slow some of our application rollout we also took advantage of continuing to refresh and upgrade our infrastructure. We know in this day and age, connectivity is important, so network, wired, wireless, cellular connectivity and our data center and end user devices, we spent a lot of time and energy making sure those were in good shape.

Like many organizations, we are developing our digital front door. It's a platform designed to provide consumer-centered patients with a place where they can be directed (to) the right channel of care and be able to have transparent costs and convenience. We recently deployed our first version and will be building upon that. We are leveraging a lot of groundwork we put out over the years, and we're working together with our chief digital transformation officer to use APIs and other technologies to empower this digital platform.

We also have a lot of data, and we are developing our analytics platform. We want to make it useful, while protecting peoples' privacy and security around data. This analytics platform proved crucial during the COVID period for quality reporting and capacity management as well as operational and fiscal analysis.

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