University of Alabama Birmingham Embeds Workflow Apps In Cerner EHR

In theory, there’s nothing exciting about an academic medical center deciding to embed apps within its EHR. In this case, however, it seems to me that there’s a little bit more going on than usual. Let’s see what you think.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham is working with a vendor named TransformativeMed to integrate extra functionality into its EHR. The general idea seems to be to help EHR users get more quickly to the data they need and have that data presented in a usable, intuitive fashion.

One of TransformativeMed’s technologies is its Core Work Manager App, which digs up information and presents it in a specialty-specific format. Its output includes a patient list which also provides the most recent set of issues the patients present. It also feeds information to clinical teams intended to help them organize rounds, convey discharge readiness and conduct handoffs.

UAB is also using a mobile version of TransformativeMed’s Core Work Manager. The mobile app allows clinicians to both gather data from and send data to the EHR, along with giving them access to the patient list available in the enterprise product. It also allows users to create and edit tasks using voice-to-text technologies then automatically upload them to the EHR.

The third element in use at UAB is the vendor’s Core Notify App, which allows clinicians to subscribe to specific alerts. Once they use Notify regularly, the app learns their preferences and delivers relevant updates. The alerts are pushed to their smartphones, and providers need not be logged into the Cerner system to get them.

These apps are being built into UAB’s Cerner system, but the vendor is Epic-friendly too. TransformativeMed is currently building out its first major deployment of its clinical applications on an Epic system.

While UAB doesn’t seem to have deployed it, the vendor also makes the Core Diabetes App, which is of course designed to help doctors manage their diabetes patients. It’s designed to take data that may live in multiple places within the EHR and present it in a manner that endocrinologists find useful. It also permits them to get hospital-wide data to view patients in specific populations.

While all of this seems worthy of being digested, from the outside looking in perhaps the most interesting aspect of this deployment is the alert system. Yes, you heard me right, the alert system.

My reasoning is as follows. There are many ways to organize data within a hospital, some of which will be intuitive for a given clinician and some of which will not. I haven’t seen TransformativeMed’s interface, so I don’t know what its UI looks like, but let’s assume that it’s attractive, powerful and cleverly organized. Even so, my sense is that providers’ information needs are evolving so rapidly that they have a comparably short shelf life.

On the other hand, if physicians get relevant alerts on their phone – even if they don’t log in—we’re talking about real impact here. My instinct is that physicians’ alert needs are relatively stable and that the right solution will stay right for quite some time. All told, I’m eager to see how this works out.

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.