On-Demand and Just in Time: Healthcare CIOs Respond to an On-Demand World

The following is a guest blog post by Eric Rice, Chief Technology Officer, Mach7 Technologies.
Eric Rice CTO Mach7 Technologies
Doesn’t it feel at times like we’re living in a total “on demand” world? How did we survive before DVRs, push notification to our pockets and, my current favorite, voice on-demand ordering with “Alexa” (no commercial here for a certain on-line/on-demand retailer).

Consider our on-demand workforce. A recent Intuit survey suggests that the number of Americans working as providers in the on-demand economy will more than double to 7.6 million in 3 years. Our culture is “demanding” on-demand and this trend is naturally impacting healthcare. CIOs must be on-demand-ready both in their delivery of services and in providing access to patient care data.

As a provider of healthcare information technology (i.e., a software and services vendor), our customers are the CIOs and IT directors of hospitals and imaging centers, but the clinical customer has always been the patient.

In our connected world where consumers expect to obtain information easily, shop for the best prices, and control how and where personal information is managed (i.e., financial data, shopping data, exercise data), it’s not surprising that the highly-regulated, compartmentalized world of hospital IT and information management is facing a groundswell for on-demand images and just-in-time information from all corners of the market.

This demand is more than a cry for convenience and personal preferences; in healthcare, on-demand access to patient information and timely decisions can have life-altering impacts. Access to accurate information “on demand” isn’t just a nice-to-have feature, it’s a necessity.

Health IT Standards Meet the Demand for “On Demand”

Adopting a standards-based, robust infrastructure for healthcare data collection, storage, access, sharing, and workflow management is key to handling an on-demand healthcare IT world. CIOs must be able to deliver patient data in all of its formats, from all of its sources, to meet a growing set of regulations, requirements, and constituents. From Meaningful Use to EHR/EMR demands to referring physicians, specialists and, oh yes, patients!

Here’s my take on healthcare transformation for CIOs.

Patient Self-Service: Enabling patients to pay their bills online is a no-brainer, but in an on-demand world, patients want more control and greater visibility. Why should we be surprised? Beyond appointment reminders and bill payment, patients want to “self-schedule”, upload new content, be more in control of their health and involved in their healthcare. They want to review lab and test results and make those data points available to other providers for second opinions. They want to shop for healthcare like they shop for any other retail products – and they want to communicate electronically with their doctors and expect those providers to have full access to a full healthcare history – complete with images, pictures and video. We have the technology today to provide this level of self-service, on-demand access; we need to transform our thinking to make the vision a reality.

Access and Sharing of a Complete Health Record:  We may recognize “show me the money”, but how about “show me the images!” The transition in patient record management made by EHR/EMR deployment was huge. The next step is building and providing a complete patient record that includes image sharing with both referring providers and patients. We are seeing these requirements promoted by regulatory bodies – nationally, CMS and ONC are pushing these requirements through avenues like Meaningful Use. Some states, such as Florida, are mandating that Level 1 and 2 trauma centers have the ability to share images to and from referring organizations.

Imaging access lags the IT advances made in most other industries. With the rollout of EMRs, care record access and sharing may be improved but often a key component is still missing, the specialty images. As one of our customers is fond of saying, ‘an EHR without images is like a museum without paintings.’ Patients and clinicians demand access to a complete healthcare record, and that complete record must contain images – yes, on-demand.

Interoperability in Merger Mania:  Healthcare consolidation is on the rise with increased merger and acquisition activity every year. Connecting, consolidating, and managing patient records across consolidated facilities is a significant challenge. CIOs understand that on-demand access to patient care records requires interoperability for seamless access and sharing of information across HIT vendor solutions.

Proactive Healthcare CIOs and IT professionals are getting in front of this transformation with new thinking, open, flexible technologies, standards, and policies. They know that “on demand” access is a key driver of care delivery, clinician satisfaction and patient satisfaction. After all, we’re all living in an on-demand world.

About Eric Rice
Eric Rice has 12 years of systems architecture and design, engineering and management experience, with the most recent 7 years focused on medical imaging IT. His team is focused on medical imaging workflow and interoperability across disparate RIS, CVIS, PACS, and reporting solutions. He brings strong software engineering techniques, a solid understanding of R&D processes, and excellent medical imaging domain skills to Mach7. Eric holds a Bachelors of Science degree from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and a degree in Management Science & Information Technology with a specialty in Decision Support Systems from the State University (Virginia Tech).