IT professionals working for healthcare systems are increasingly updating their IT infrastructure to improve the experience for both patients and healthcare providers, says longtime IT veteran Rob Dreussi. Why? Patients are demanding a more holistic and transparent experience, and high inflation is pushing healthcare systems to be even more efficient.
Dreussi, an IT executive with more than 25 years of experience in healthcare information technology, is CIO at HCTec, a provider of healthcare IT workforce optimization solutions based in Brentwood, Tennessee. He spoke with StrategicCIO360 about how the industry is changing, where healthcare systems are investing and why hospitals are opening on-site pharmacies.
What are specific areas of IT infrastructure that health system executives need to update?
Greater investments are being made in strategies that reduce costs and help organizations become more efficient. AI and automation are often considered in these discussions. In some cases, however, challenges in initial implementation can interfere with proving the positive ROI of these applications. If barriers can be crossed, AI and automation can be a great tool in reducing costs and improving efficiencies.
Strategies that improve patient retention have come into sharper focus. There is a desire to have increased satisfaction, overall—for patients and providers. We can work to improve patient experience and retention through a variety of tactics. For instance, from optimizing communications channels with the clinical team, to answering questions about insurance coverage and treatment plans.
Data security also remains a high priority investment. As the world and the healthcare ecosystem become more digitally advanced, we anticipate continued investment in this area.
Why are these areas in need of an update?
During a time of high inflation and increased consumer demand from the pandemic, increased efficiency, patient retention and digital security are rising in priority. As healthcare organizations continue to level out post-pandemic and continue to evolve from the digital demand from the pandemic, the foundational human aspects of healthcare are rising to the forefront.
Regarding digital health and hospitals, where are the biggest areas of investment?
Categories that are seeing the most growth are ones that are trying to provide cost-efficient ways to connect with the patient where they are at, meaning they are expanding outside the brick-and-mortar locations and continuing to look for ways to expand their services. This can be seen currently in hospitals that are opening pharmacies within their hospitals rather than using retail pharmacies.
Pharmacists that work with patients during a hospital stay can continue to work with that patient after that hospital stay through the hospital retail pharmacy. This way, the hospital will have the pharmacy data during and after the patient’s hospital stay and be able to make even better treatment plan recommendations for the future.
What do you see these investments looking like in the future?
As IT investments include more patient-centric initiatives, health equity is an area that will also continue to rise in priority this year, necessitating the enablement of collection and application of this type of data for healthcare provider organizations.
More electronic health record systems are trying to become a one-stop-shop experience for digital health applications as it relates to patient interactions. Investments in workflow planning and having the right team in place to make health equity data actionable will enable more effective treatment and prevention plans, such as routine care plans, immunizations reminders and medication changes.