The Rise of Technology in Healthcare & HI Professionals’ Integral Role

By Keval Ranparia, Digital Health Canada Emerging Professional Member

For quite a long time, medical records were captured, stored and shared in paper and films. The rise of information technology in healthcare has enabled more effective and efficient medical record transactions. Now the healthcare industry is looking forward to converting electronic data from these records into meaningful information in order to make innovative changes in the healthcare system.

As an avid health informatics (HI) emerging professional (EP), I wanted to understand the nature of this paradigm shift and the role of EPs in it. In a recent conversation with Dr. Aviv Gladman (pictured below), I gained insight about the upheaval around implementing technology in healthcare and the resulting disruptive changes. As Chief Medical Information Officer with Mackenzie Health, Dr. Gladman has a critical care clinical practice and is a thought leader. He is a graduate of Engineering Science and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto with expertise in intelligent workflow automation, the Internet of Healthcare Things (IoHT), clinician engagement and disruptive change. Here are some ideas based on my discussion with Dr. Gladman.

Dr. GladmanDr. Aviv GladmanTechnological advancement has not made the same impact in healthcare compared to other industries, partly because of the complexity of healthcare organizations and systems and partly because of the inherent resistance to automation. However, in recent years, technology has been significantly involved in healthcare due to population growth, staffing shortages and the demand for high-quality care. Government policy changes have also helped hospitals push the innovation agenda at the organizational level. Technological advances in electronic medical records (EMRs) are allowing them to have better interoperability within different departments. In addition, the IoHT is fundamentally changing the delivery of healthcare by unifying communications and information exchange in unprecedented ways and by delivering the right information and resources at the right time to the point of care.

LEAN and Agile

The biggest challenge in healthcare lies in implementation of new technology in a heterogeneous system. The key to success is to make changes, not just in technology, but also in process improvement and implementation strategies. For example, in order to improve the delivery of healthcare, Mackenzie Health has adapted the LEAN methodology, which has been widely successful in many other industries. Historically, other industries have adopted a “top-down” approach, where top management with subject matter experts drives the process of change and is responsible for adapting culture for the LEAN methodology. However, in healthcare, it is wise to adapt a “bottom-to-top” approach by including representatives from all departments on a steering committee to drive the change, as the requirement for change comes from all the different factions of the organization.

The method that is widely used in healthcare IT product development is the “Agile” methodology, which empowers end users to take control of the software development process by providing recommendations on each sprint of Agile. Out-of-the-box thinking about implementing well-established methodologies such as LEAN and Agile in a customized manner to fit the healthcare setting has enabled initiatives such as the Mackenzie Health “Time and Motion Study” to happen. This study involves collecting data from smart beds and hand hygiene devices for statistical analysis to improve workflow efficiency.

Collaboration, Innovators & HI Professionals

The primary focus on patient-centric health delivery at most healthcare organizations can make it difficult to focus on technological innovation. Collaboration with industry innovators can help organizations implement innovation projects efficiently by allowing them to define clinical problems and provide a platform for innovators to implement the right technology with systematic process. HI professionals are integral to this collaboration. Skilled in information technology, business processes and medical workflow, they enable medical technology procurement and its maintenance.

“HI professionals need to be provided with a platform where they can work with clinical staff to understand the ground-level reality and clinical workflow.” said Dr. Gladman. “Professionals can acquire knowledge of information technology and business process management by taking courses available in market. However, to understand clinical workflow, professionals have to work in a hospital setting with clinical staff.”

About Mackenzie Health

Mackenzie Health is a regional healthcare provider serving a population of over a half million people in Southwest York Region and beyond. Mackenzie Health includes Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital, the future Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital and a comprehensive network of community-based services in Richmond Hill, Vaughan and the surrounding communities. An award-winning organization, Mackenzie Health has been nationally and provincially recognized with: Accreditation with Exemplary Standing, Stroke Distinction Accreditation, Innovation Award for Healthcare Leadership, National Healthcare Safety Award, National Award for Excellence in Nursing Leadership, Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) Best Practice Spotlight Designation, and Gold Quality Healthcare Workplace Award.

[alert type=”alert-standard” close=”false”]HI Education: To learn more about the topics discussed in this blog, check out the Digital Health Canada Webinar Wednesdays and the CPHIMS-CA Virtual Preparation Course.[/alert]