healthcaretechoutlook

Engagement + Collaboration = Innovation: An Outcome to Boast and a Strategy to Implement

By Lac Van Tran, SVP & CIO and Associate Dean, Rush University Medical Center

Lac Van Tran, SVP & CIO and Associate Dean, Rush University Medical Center

On the technology front, we have built a knowledge-based Data Warehouse foundation with data collections and analytic tools for the clinicians and researchers to study; through analyses and collaboration based on these data, the researchers formulate better disease-based treatment protocols. The data warehouse consists of multiple technology components represented by 70 percent of pre-existing technology, 25 percent of new applications and tools, and 5 percent of in-house developed software.

"If you create an environment where the people truly participate, you don’t need control"

Resulting from the knowledge-based data warehouse tools, the Cancer Center care model is our proposal for the launching pad of our informatics development program. The informatics development program’s task force will assist RUMC in implementing our personalized medicine. The personalized medicine initiatives require development and redesign of care processes. Significant examples among them are the following: 1) Personalized clinical management to focus on the unique characteristics of each individual patient and that patient’s disease; 2) Patient-centered care coordination plans that address all aspects of the patient’s life; 3) Customized communication with patients about their treatment options and potential outcomes using curated data; 4) Opportunities to collaborate with other industries (pharmaceutical, bio-medical, technology, etc.); 5) Establishment of pattern detection technology and decision support systems to transform current “re-active” care delivery into more preventative/proactive care processes. Along with the “personalized” medicine journey, several software and hardware applications must be implemented, including global consent systems, de-identified data warehouse, and integration of collected biological specimen data bases.

Hospital Without Walls (HWW) is another initiative spawned from our ICARE revitalized effort with the focus on our Collabo­ration value. One of the units responsible for implementing this HWW initiative is the Telehealth Technology Task Force. A prima­ry function of this group is to evaluate all available technology and applicable regulations pertaining to telehealth technology. To date, the following achievements have been realized: 1) tele­health visits for patients with movement disorders; 2) tele con­sults on pediatric epileptic patients in the Illinois rural areas; 3) tele-stroke network allowing RUMC physicians to ex­amine stroke patients that present in the ED of an affiliated community hospital; 4) remote moni­toring of ultrasounds for Women and Children’s Program at an affiliated community hospital; and 5) tele-consults on obstetrical and neona­tal interventions. With continuing efforts, the HWW initiative will expand our care delivery to national and even international populations.

Revitalized ICARE values serve to improve employee engagement strategies. Several activities have been formulated to improve employee engagement, one of which is an “Enterprise Wide Innovation Challenge.” This “contest” solicited innovative ideas from all RUMC employees with a very simple requirement: Winning projects must be implemented between 3 to 6 months. Within a period of 30 days, 324 ideas were submitted representing all levels of employees, including clinicians, administration, technical, and service personnel. One finalist will be announced and funding will be allocated to implement the winning proposal within this fiscal year.

The above examples are only a few illustrations of our achievements through our employee engagement processes. As former Southwest Airlines chairman and CEO Herb Kelleher stated:

If you create an environment where the people truly participate, you don’t need control. They know what needs to be done and they do it. And the more that people will devote themselves to your cause on a voluntary basis, a willing basis, the fewer hierarchies and control mechanisms you need. (“A Culture of Commitment”)

As our institution heads toward building the most engaged workforce and re-energizing our value-based practices, we happily boast of our numerous outcomes. These outcomes open more opportunities to 1) deal efficiently with changes in healthcare (population health, payment reforms, etc.); 2) collaborate and research on regional populations care delivery, national care initiatives, internationally-based care and disease-based outcomes; 3) expand Hospital Without Walls for care delivery; 4) provide personalized care treatments and proactive/ preventative care; and 5) boost the intellectual property and innovation at Rush.

Admittedly, we are at a very early stage of building an engaged workforce; nonetheless, the results thus far are astounding—just imagine a totally engaged workforce! These positive results clearly confirm that our “people first” strategy is a worthy strategy to implement!