Technology, the Engine Behind Connected Health

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend the eighth annual Connected Health Symposium, an event that brought more than 1,000 healthcare executives, physicians, nurses and IT experts together to discuss the impact of technology on healthcare today and the future of healthcare innovation. What an exciting and important topic, given the enormity of change that is upon us.

Today, the entire healthcare system is in transition. Meaningful Use is in full swing, clinical adoption of Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems is required, ICD-10 is coming fast and furious, and the move to ACOs could fundamentally change healthcare as we know it. As healthcare organizations work to figure out how to comply with, and excel in light of, all these changes, many have learned and many more will learn that technology will play a leading role. With that said, however, it is critical that today's healthcare innovations meet the demands of, and fit into, the workflows of the single provider, the largest, national hospital networks and everyone in-between, so that the voice of healthcare -- the story -- that of patients and of clinicians -- can be captured, understood and used for good.

Clinical documentation is one of the most undervalued resources that we have in healthcare. When it is built from rich, accurate information, there is a tremendous opportunity to extend its value -- to analyze it and understand it so it can help to drive operational and clinical benefits. Bad data happens when clinicians' workflows are not adequately supported -- when doctors aren't empowered to document to the degree they should. Doctors, as we all know, have different workflow needs and preferences -- while one might type at 100 words-per-minute, another might rely on a medical transcriptionist to create their medical record and another might prefer to document via their iPhone.

Doctors today work in a variety of settings and in many instances it is up to technology to support each and every scenario so bad data capture does not occur. Whether a doctor is capturing information from a laptop, desktop, telephone, through a transcriptionist or through a mobile device -- today, there are ample capture-supporting technologies and workflow best practices to eliminate bad data.

With the coming of ICD-10, coding is a prime example of how benefits and best practices can be driven with technology. Through deep understanding of physician documentation workflow, new "understanding" technologies can be inserted to interact with the physician at the point of documentation to ensure that each document contains the level of specificity required to achieve reimbursement that appropriately reflects the level of care provided -- this heightened level of specificity can also contribute to better information and ultimately to better ongoing care.

We have a steep hill to climb toward our future of healthcare excellence and today the smart use of technology as part of the care delivery process is a promising place to start.