Connecting the Art of Care to the Science (Technology) of Care

The following is a guest article by Andy Nieto, Global Healthcare Solutions Manager at Lenovo.

Five digital strategy steps

Health IT expert and former Cleveland Clinic CIO Ed Marx headlined a recent EXPO health event with a talk on “Five Keys to Developing a Digital Strategy.” Ed outlined key steps along the digital transformation journey many healthcare organizations need to take – from aspiring, to committing, to planning.

When compared with the personal healthcare journeys of patients today, there are some striking parallels. For healthcare organizations developing a digital strategy, the endgame is higher quality of care with better outcomes. It’s the same for patients. Both organizations and patients are looking for modern solutions to replace outmoded ways of delivering care. Both seek relief from tedious and inconvenient processes. And both patients and providers are overdue for the freedom and empowerment to engage passionately – patients to take control of their own wellness, and clinicians to reconnect with what brought them to medicine in the first place. Technology holds the key.

Step-by-step similarities
As you read through Ed’s five steps, consider how they can be applied on both the organizational and clinical sides of healthcare. For organizations, these steps guide digital strategy development. For patients, the steps can provide a blueprint for defining and implementing personal healthcare goals.

Step 1: Define the vision.
Ed’s organizational mandate is to create the vision we want to live into – not where we are but where we aspire to be. It will be the result of an intensive process, but in the end, it should be well-defined and succinct enough to fit on one presentation slide.

The process is the same for patients. The consumerization of healthcare has been building, following on the heels of a major shift in the mindset of retail shoppers. Consumers are increasingly empowered to make their needs and wants known. Patients should be too.

Be bold! For Ed, that’s the defining characteristic of your vision. This is where an empowered consumer mindset comes in handy. Audacious aspirations can start with seeing what’s not working and imagining something better.

Step 2: Assemble a team of teams.
Vision alone won’t make a strategy. And a lone visionary in an organization is bound to fail. On the personal front, patients need support. Sharing ideas with family and friends helps clarify and hone the vision.

Ed stresses the importance of diversity on a team. He also advises including naysayers. So, we could include a trusted friend who sees the healthcare world the same way we do – but maybe also someone who’s chosen a different path of care.

Care teams, of course, are instrumental in making the patient’s vision a reality.

Step 3: Gather multiple inputs.
We live in an information-rich world with access to expertise at every turn. We can add depth to our vision, goals, and plans with wide-ranging research from trusted sources and relationships with adjunct providers, for example, a nutritionist.

Based on these inputs, plus life changes, ongoing care, and outcomes, the vision will likely change. Just as Ed advises in the organizational setting, we should circle back to iterate and refine. It’s a continual process.

Step 4: Seek alignment.
Clichés become clichés for a reason. Without “getting everyone on the same page,” it’s hard to get things done in any organization. On a personal level, especially in healthcare, this can be tricky. Health conditions can be sensitive, even secretive topics.

The team of teams may find it uncomfortable to talk with the patient, with each other, even with the care team. And, of course, they won’t always need to. But establishing an open, inclusive precedent and making wishes known for all kinds of situations, not just end of life, could turn out to be critical. Many providers now offer virtual visits and the option to bring family members into the conversation.

Step 5: Commit appropriate resources.
In taking charge of our own healthcare, we also take responsibility for the resources that bring our vision to life. A resource might be as simple as a good scale, gym membership, or cookbook. Resources include the healthcare providers we choose. And they will most certainly include technology, whether that’s a fitness app or a home-based chronic care management solution.

One other thing Ed mentioned is that organizations don’t necessarily need an outside consultant to manage or lead this five-step process. Like many things in life, the answers are largely within. Just the commitment to spend time on the inquiry starts those answers bubbling up. And using a structured process helps keep things on track. This is as true for individuals as it is for organizations.

Technology companies have been developing solutions for decades to meet some of healthcare’s biggest challenges. When fully embraced, that technology will fulfill some of our biggest healthcare dreams. For organizations, patients, and providers, Ed Marx’s five steps are a great way to begin.

At Lenovo, we believe in patient-first healthcare, enabled by people-first technology. Every Lenovo healthcare solution begins with a challenge, that when solved, will improve care delivery, experience, and outcomes. From mobility to workflow, security to data analytics, Lenovo devices, software, and services are a trusted foundation for care delivery transformation everywhere on the care continuum.

About Andy Nieto:
Andrew Nieto is the Global Healthcare Solutions Manager at Lenovo. He is a Colorado native who started his career in healthcare with roles including EMT, paramedic, trauma technician and surgical team assistant. With advanced degrees in biology and chemistry and extensive experience, Andy has been a healthcare technology leader fusing both clinical and technical knowledge allowing him to deliver exceptional solutions. Andy has a passion for improving the flow of information inside and outside of clinical networks with a focus on improving patient outcomes.

Be sure to join us for our future Experience Series events.