Health care leaders outline strategies for 21st-century care delivery at Fourth Annual IDX Healthcare Executive Summit

Burlington 26 September 2005More than 130 health care industry executives and experts recently gathered at the 2005 IDX Healthcare Executive Summit to discuss strategies for creating digital health systems that deliver safe, efficient and cost-effective patient care. The fourth annual summit focused on challenges and solutions for implementing electronic health records (EHRs) across organisations, regions and nations, including the challenges of connecting numerous providers, co-ordinating care and pro-actively managing patient health across disparate geographic locations. Key executives and clinicians, including CEOs, CIOs, and chief medical and nursing officers, from health care organisations throughout North America and the United Kingdom attended the event, held September 22-25 in Dana Point, California.


The event featured a number of today's key influencers in health care, beginning with remarks from Dr. David Brailer, United States National Co-ordinator for Health Information Technology, who discussed his strategies for overcoming barriers inherent to achieving widespread adoption of interoperable EHRs within 10 years. He provided an update on his office's accomplishments in bringing together health care stakeholders, promoting adoption and supporting interoperability. Dr. Brailer emphasized the importance of collaboration between public and private sectors, and hailed the recent formation of the American Health Information Community (AHIC) as a positive step in advancing more widespread use of electronic health records across the continuum of care.

AHIC, a federally charted commission comprised of 17 representatives of both the private and public sectors, will hold its first meeting October 7 and will advise Health and Human Services on making health records digital and interoperable, and assuring that the privacy and security of those records are protected in a smooth, market-led way.

"We need to create a level playing field to have the right IT tools available for everyone", Dr. Brailer stated at the summit. "The government needs to be a catalyst to this effort, and not a regulator or a dictator." Dr. Brailer also commented that promoting IT adoption does not equate to "dropping computers on physicians' desks". He urged the vendor community to be guided by a commitment to promoting the overall quality of care and to designing "software that drives value for physicians", particularly by offering user-friendly and effective physician work flow tools.

Newt Gingrich, founder of the Center for Health Transformation and Former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, called on executives to lead the transformation of the health care system into one that is prevention-focused, knowledge-rich and electronically based. Speaker Gingrich highlighted the need for health care leaders to have the appropriate technology, financial and leadership tools to create a system that saves lives and saves money.

"Incremental change cannot move us from our current system into one that is intelligent, safe, efficient, accessible and meets the needs of 21st Century America", Speaker Gingrich stated. "Provider organisations that are islands of excellence must lead the way in working together to transform our system. It will take transformational and rapid change to reach new levels of patient safety, quality care and cost-effectiveness."

Speakers also provided insights into how health care organisations can best chart a course through the rapid and complex changes of technology adoption. Dr. Molly J. Coye, founder and CEO of Health Technology Center, spoke about the increasing momentum to electronically connect health systems with individual providers, noting that along with other technology developments, this change will affect the financial and collaborative relationships between hospitals and community physicians.

To illustrate a successful approach to navigating these challenges, Dr. John Haughom, Senior Vice President at PeaceHealth, presented a case study on the non-profit health system's Community Health Record (CHR), which supports seamless care delivery across inpatient and ambulatory facilities in Alaska, Washington and Oregon. Today the CHR, built on the IDX enterprise clinical system, supports care for 1,5 million patients and is used by approximately 16.000 PeaceHealth employees and affiliates. In addition, 54 independent practitioners use the system to provide care in their offices via an Application Service Provider/Internet Service Provider (ASP/ISP) model and market-based fee structure.

Independent health policy writer, lecturer and ethicist Emily Friedman discussed the challenging issues and ethical questions inherent to the increasing role of information technology, clinical data and genetics research in patient care. She offered 10 Ethics Rules for the Age of Technology, combining humour with practical guidance for keeping ethics paramount in addressing such issues as the privacy of personal medical information, the outcomes of health care information becoming proprietary, and the potential vulnerabilities of clinicians and patients who are not technologically savvy.

In a second IDX customer case study, David K. Wessner, president and CEO of Park Nicollet Health Services in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, discussed how the organisation has used "Lean Production" quality-improvement techniques with the integrated IDX EHR system to streamline clinician work flow and improve its operating margin. Including cross-continuum information on more than 2,1 million patients, the organisation's EHR has supported return on investment for Park Nicollet of $29 million over five years, with a current annual savings of $18,3 million. Savings were gained through such achievements as reduced duplication of work, reduced errors, more streamlined clinical documentation and reductions in the cost of storing paper records. Building on its exemplary EHR, Park Nicollet is also one of 10 organisations nationwide participating in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' pay-for-performance pilot programme, which provides incentives for improving quality outcomes for patients with diabetes and other chronic diseases.

To close the summit, guest speaker General Tommy Franks drew upon his experience leading America's military forces through numerous challenges, and offered unique perspectives on the principles of integrity, teamwork and compassion, and leadership as applied to the mission-critical health care environment.

During the event, many attendees toured the IDX Digital Healthcare Community, a simulated health care network that tracks a patient's journey across ambulatory and inpatient settings and illustrates how the IDX Carecast clinical information system supports clinical and financial best practices throughout the continuum of care. The IDX Digital Healthcare Community featured advanced technologies to benefit patient care and productivity, including the lifetime, image-enabled EHR, Computerized Physician Order Entry, medication barcode charting and advanced decision support.

"Today, countries around the globe are witnessing a defining moment in health care. Our industry has an extraordinary opportunity to transform patient care and to create national and local infrastructures to ensure that life-saving medical information is always available", stated IDX CEO James H. Crook, Jr. "That's why it is critical to create environments such as the IDX Healthcare Executive Summit that enable health care leaders to share ideas, gain insights and work together to realize technology's full benefit to both the quality and cost-effectiveness of health care."

Carecast is a fully integrated clinical, financial and administrative system, combining core clinical processes for orders, results, pharmacy and clinical documentation with administrative and financial processes for scheduling, registration, admitting, charging and billing. Representing the next generation of electronic clinical information solutions, Carecast delivers unsurpassed response time and reliability to support fast-paced clinical environments. The system automates work flow throughout the health care enterprise and enables rapid access to patient records across the care continuum, from admission to discharge, including inpatient and ambulatory care. The result is a comprehensive lifetime patient record that enhances the quality of care and promotes operational efficiencies.

Developed by and for providers, in collaboration with hospitals, clinicians and health care executives, Carecast builds on 25 years of innovation with the IDX LastWord enterprise system. Customers include health care organisations in the United States, Canada and Europe.

Founded in 1969, IDX Systems Corporation provides information technology solutions to maximize value in the delivery of health care, improve the quality of patient service, enhance medical outcomes, and reduce the costs of care. Our systems are deployed to serve approximately 150.000 physicians and are installed at over 3400 customer sites, including more than 850 group practices and approximately 370 integrated delivery networks servicing more than 500 hospitals.

IDX also provides its enterprise clinical software as a subcontractor to BT, Local Service Provider for the United Kingdom National Health Service's National Programme for Information Technology, an initiative to establish electronic patient records for 50 million patients. The IDX Web strategy includes browser technology, e-commerce and Web-based tools, built using Internet architecture, that facilitates access for patients, physicians and care providers to vital health information and data managed by the IDX clinical, administrative, financial, and managed care products. IDX has approximately 2400 full-time employees. More IDX news is available in the VMW September 2005 article IDX announces winners of 2005 Carecast Customer Innovation Awards.

Leslie Versweyveld

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