Michelle Woodley, RN, MSN, Chief Nursing Information Officer, St. Joseph Health
Today, the roles of CIO and CNIO are witnessing a great transformation. Interpreting and bridging the chasm between the needs of the patients and technology offerings have become basic requisites for a CNIO. At St. Joseph Health, we apply our deep commitment and knowledge of patient care to technological advancements so we can appropriately leverage technology in healthcare. To deliver the right product or service in care of the patient requires strong and prudent partnership with technology vendors.
Intricacies and Challenges in the Healthcare Arena
Healthcare organizations have to overcome many challenges such as how to grant easy access to applications or devices for the health-seekers while protecting health information. Secondly, healthcare providers must understand the end users’ ability to use the applications and devices. Facilitating easy access and improving end user usability are the barriers that continually challenge healthcare providers and where telehealth is bringing a sea of change.
The Role of Telemedicine
For the aging population, telehealth can be crucial as it can lessen the burden of transportation in seeking medical advice outside of the home. Health seekers can benefit from healthcare services that are offered in the comfort of their home and pertinent data can be provided to the provider. Today in healthcare, we are faced with a growing shortage of some specialists. Telehealth or telemedicine can also provide an opportunity to deliver healthcare to a person in a remote location that would otherwise go underserved. This assures that even patients who are devoid of direct access to healthcare facilities, can avail themselves with a range of healthcare services.
However, there are advantages and limitations while delivering telehealth services. As some healthcare services are heavily dependent on direct physical examination of the patient, organizations need to clearly demarcate the boundaries where telehealth services are appropriate. Once those boundaries are clearly understood, healthcare organizations can offer telehealth services that can bring about paradigm change in healthcare delivery. Healthcare organizations can leverage telemedicine to manage population health, expedite delivery of qualified care, efficiently reduce the cost of treatment, and mitigate risks for patients.
Telemedicine is a worthwhile technological advancement in transforming the conventional practices in healthcare. At St. Joseph Health, we believe these advancements will allow us to leverage valuable medical and nursing resources while offering convenience and ease for our patients as they determine how best to schedule and receive care in busy lives. Healthcare organizations can also leverage telehealth to monitor chronic care and follow patients over extended time periods in an easier way. These new offerings can also provide patients with access to valuable information in their care and options for obtaining specialist opinions. Additional potential advantages of new technologies are manifold.
Increased Responsibilities for CNIOs
In healthcare, we are accountable for the life care and safety of our patients and must assure its accuracy, medical appropriateness and regulatory compliance. CNIOs join others on the delivery team in ensuring that monitoring equipment is in accordance with the regulatory guidelines and delivers accurate data. CNIOs working with direct care delivery teams and safety officers work hand in hand to provide the safest and best care for the patients.
The desperate need in this unfolding technology is for healthcare providers to partner with telemedicine solution vendors and enlighten patients about what is the appropriate and valuable use of this technology including clinical decision support and patient education. This partnerships with vendors would create a win-win solution for all stakeholders. As telehealth continues to advance, it will be imperative that vendors incorporate clinicians in their teams from the onset. Prior healthcare technologies have often failed when clinicians and vendors failed to partner early on in the development cycle.
One of the key roles of the CNIO is to be the bridge between clinicians and technology and responsible for developing products that will truly work for those seeking care. At the end of the day, the CNIO should also continue to learn from other industries and people who have leveraged different technologies to bring these advancements to healthcare.