Technology offers many paths to quality care

Achieving higher levels of patient safety and quality care validation are at the top of every healthcare provider’s list of goals, yet attaining them can take many different routes depending on the methodology and type of technology deployed, say the makers and users of various IT systems.

For instance, Jackson Health Network aimed to reduce gaps in care across its physician sites in south central Michigan. COO Wynn Hazen says Dallas-based Phytel has been a good fit for this mission because its Atmosphere platform integrates health data with a patient communication engine, combining analytic reports with interventional capabilities.

“It is a clinically integrated network that allows physicians and hospitals to improve outcomes and the experience of care while impacting the cost curve,” said Hazen, whose consortium of hospitals and physician practices serves approximately 160,000 in the greater Jackson area. “We are contracting with payers to create a new financing method to align how we pay for healthcare and get away from the fee-for-service mentality.”

Phytel chief medical officer Richard Hodach, MD, adds that the platform is designed to gather data from various provider systems, including billing, scheduling and electronic medical records and brings it into a patient-oriented registry.

“It uses a series of algorithms based on national guidelines and standards of care to create a series of reports used with that data,” he said. “Once you get these reports you can see a whole population, spot the care gaps and use the tools to reach out to these patients and effectively close these gaps.”

The drive to automate clinical functions as a patient safety measure has been escalating in recent years, notes Jean Broberg, director of site development for San Diego-based CliniComp.

“People want to go to the next level,” she said. “We are there to help them with their configuration needs, hardware upgrades and to make sure they have outstanding results.”

The ability to get data out to the back end is especially important, she said, “because in this mobile age, it has to be pushed out to where the doctors are.”

Texas Radiology Associates in North Dallas has been concentrating on patient safety as a “key to a successful practice” for decades, says radiologist Paul Staveteig, MD. The 70-physician radiology group, which includes 18 hospitals and a number of imaging centers, conducts a regular Process Quality Review in tandem with the American College of Radiology’s online peer review process.

The six-member panel randomly selects cases anonymously from a national database and evaluates whether the decision-making was correct in each case. Advancements in IT have made the peer review process much more thorough and expedient, Staveteig said.