By Sarianne Gruber
It’s still so much about being a nurse. I impact the lives of every patient taken care of at any of the facilities that use our software. I was drawn to informatics because I like to understand processes and I am enamored with process improvement – how can we be more efficient? Informatics is all about solving the puzzle of how technology can improve the process of patient care. Technology provides us with this wonderful opportunity to help nurses stay at the bedside and take care of the patient. We can let computers do what they are good at – transmitting information from one place to another. We should be able to document in one place. Then have the computer systems transfer the information and present it in any context where it’s needed. – Beth Meyers, Nurse Executive, Healthcare Analytics Strategy Director, Infor Inc.
Beth Meyers’ passion is bringing technology into the real world of patient care as an adjunct to the expertise of clinical care providers. Luckily, I was able to secure a seat at Ms. Meyer’s presentation on BI Transformation into Insights at the Inforum Conference in New York City. And even very luckier to speak with her about her current role at Infor, Inc. and learn more about healthcare’s adoption of new technologies. Ms. Meyers recalled a time in her career when she had to chart data in five to seven places for each patient – the same information, over and over. She remembered that she spent half of her shift just documenting, not taking care of patients. Ideally, after implementation of an electronic health record (EHR), nurses only need to document one time. Or, better yet, not at all. Vital signs monitoring and smart IV pumps dispensing medication can now populate information directly to the EHR. “So today, we can transform the jobs of nurses – they no longer need to chart in 7 places, but just review all the information, noting data pertinent for this particular patient,” shared Meyers. A gently edited version of conversion follows below.
Where do you see healthcare analytics today?
Meyers: When it comes to analytics I see two very different ends of the spectrum within the healthcare environment. On one end, it’s all the exciting things like Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things. Providers can connect to their patients at home, which has become the new hub for patient generated data. We can link to a scale to monitor a patient’s weight and with an app, patients can share their fitness activities. This provides the opportunity to look at large volumes of clinical data in ways that we weren’t able to do to before. What’s exciting about having all this data, are all the opportunities for turning it into information through analytics. On the other end of the spectrum, we sometimes see little in change in the way information is provided to midlevel managers of healthcare organizations. IT departments are trying to keep up and organize the mass amounts of incoming data in order to make it consumable for decision makers. Some organizations are still struggling to answer basic questions like how many patients did you see in the ER yesterday? As an expert in this field, I help our customers strategize on both sides of the spectrum. On any given day we excitingly discuss pilot projects with newly available technologies. Or, co-create plans to help IT teams better serve decision makers with networked business intelligence, embedded analytics and self-service tools.
Why is getting data back into the patients’ hands important?
Meyers: Infor recently worked with a large teaching hospital in New Jersey on a collaborative project to streamline the patient experience. The chief information officer experienced the traditional redundancy of information collection on paper forms when his family member had an urgent medical need. This experienced emboldened him to modernize patient intake at his organization, leveraging technology effectively to improve the process. Everything else can be done on a smart phone, taking medical histories and patient backgrounds should be done in the same fashion. Infor’s technology was used to facilitate data transfer in this collaborative project to automate the capture medical history and the patient’s background. Data is directly captured from a tablet or a home computer. It’s transferred to the hospital computer system and doesn’t have to be retyped. Across different systems – lab, radiology, pharmacy, we can record the information once and send it where it is required without re-entering data.
Where have Health Information Exchanges made the most progress?
Meyers: Aggregation across the patient records allows us to look at the longitudinal view of what is happening for one particular patient. Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) allow us to create that consolidated look at the patient’s record. Today’s value-based alternative payment models require this broader view of the patient experience. And Infor can help customers achieve this with a private HIE, for instance, a technology solution to consolidate patient information within a healthcare system with several medical practices and hospitals using numerous medical record systems. A physician can view and trust the longitudinal view of the patient’s record, empowering them with information, which in turn, reduces the duplication of expensive testing. This is very important in the quest to reduce unnecessary healthcare costs — without good data, your primary doctor, specialist or ER provider may want to repeat lab tests, x-rays or MRIs. With a longitudinal view of the patient record, a HIE reduces repetitive tests, a cost savings to the patients and taxpayers, and uses resources more efficiently by sharing from a single source of data. So, our solutions help reduce both time and costs. Inside the hospital, they save clinicians time enabling them to “chart once” and outside the hospital, we reduce costs by empowering providers to “test once.”
What are you most excited about in the future?
I dream about the day when we will have a codified, context rich, aggregated view of each individual’s longitudinal patient experience. On that day, we will finally have a data set rich enough to employ Artificial Intelligence to do deep learning about what treatments really work best. Providers will be able to apply this information to patient care in the truest form of evidence based medicine. To get there, we first need to focus on the quality of our data and begin to incorporate decision support in a way that works better for providers and patients. This is the path to forward to personalized, precision medicine. It’s an exciting time to be in healthcare IT!