Health IT

Hospital leaders weigh in on digital transformation’s hottest issues

During a HIMSS panel discussion hosted by Omnicell, leaders from Texas Children’s Hospital, Rush University Medical Center and Rush Copley Medical Center discussed interoperability, predictive analytics and a few worries regarding artificial intelligence.

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At HIMSS, a panel discussion hosted by medication management solution company Omnicell gave five healthcare leaders the chance to voice their thoughts a broad range of health IT topics, from interoperability to artificial intelligence to predictive analytics.

The panelists hailed from Houston-based Texas Children’s Hospital, Chicago-based Rush University Medical Center and Aurora, Illinois-based Rush Copley Medical Center, all of which use Omnicell’s solutions.

To begin, the talk zeroed in on the definition of digital transformation and which members of an organization drive it.

Eric Williams, CMIO of Texas Children’s, said the push for transformation comes from the C-suite level and flows down. But as he and Rush University Medical Center CIO Shafiq Rab noted, collaboration is a crucial part of the process.

“It’s moving so fast now,” Williams said. “You have to partner with other people to make this work in the right way.”

Teamwork is also a necessary skill when it comes to interoperability.

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“[T]he systems don’t talk to each other,” Rab said. “We need to connect and close the loop. Without closing the loop, we’re just useless.”

Gee Mathen, assistant director of pharmacy for application and technical services at Texas Children’s, said the push for interoperability has to start with hospitals and health systems, who may have to encourage their EHR vendor to work toward interoperability initiatives.

Artificial intelligence is an area of healthcare that’s constantly being hyped. It can be helpful in numerous ways, such as through offering clinical decision support and overriding unnecessary alarms. However, some panelists were a bit wary of everything AI brings to the table.

Glenn George, applications architect at Texas Children’s, said he believes there needs to be a form of governance around AI. And Dennis DeMasie, CIO of Rush Copley Medical Center, said he’s flat out scared of the technology.

“I’m honestly pretty frightened about it,” he said. “The whole eICU concept … that’s really cool.”

But the ability of a machine to learn something so well that it skips out on talking to humans and orders a specific medication is alarming, he noted.

“They’re taking out the human factor completely,” DeMasie said.

As far as predictive analytics is concerned, Rab touched on what Rush is doing. When the health system does a genomics study of a patient, it develops a resource library that contains information on which drugs are effective in patients with certain conditions.

“In the world of predictability, it becomes more reliable as you add more data to it,” he said.

Photo: shylendrahoode, Getty Images