The past 12 months have allowed the state and our healthcare organizations to work towards a new normal in terms of delivering patient care and managing our information services teams.
The two most significant trends in 2022 were the transition of COVID-19 to endemic status and the impact of the “great resignation” – especially in our clinical communities.
Many healthcare systems have faced the departure of frontline clinicians, who have borne the brunt of the pandemic and are leaving the healthcare space en masse. There remains a significant gap in staff with the significant task of maintaining clinical operations.
While industry leaders have addressed this situation by using the services of temporary staffing agencies to supplement and provide the necessary clinical talent, this has created a financial strain on medical facilities at a significant cost that was much higher than budgeted.
This scenario, along with other supply chain and inflationary burdens, has put most healthcare provider organizations under significant financial pressure.
Given these health care delivery challenges and the protracted pandemic, our efforts in the coming year and beyond will need to focus on leveraging the power and innovation of technology to minimize costs, increase revenue, further engage patients, and reduce clinician burnout.
Most organizations that provide healthcare services have made significant strides in implementing their electronic health record, which serves as the foundation and electronic glue, connecting providers with their patients.
Continuous improvements to the EHR platform and supported expansion efforts have become part of the standard care and nutrition of EHRs. The stage is set for this foundational platform to be used to address emerging pain points in 2022. I believe the EHR is the key to advancing newer technologies and supporting the needs of this ever-changing environment.
From the perspective of the Penn Medicine organization, our Epic EHR (branded as PennChart) is critical to leveraging our investment for future technology innovations that impact patient care in the most optimal way.
Across our organization, additional strategies, demonstrated through several key initiatives below, are currently underway to help set a steady course for the future as we head into 2023.
It’s still all about the people! As we rely on technology to ease some of the burdens felt from 2022, focusing on our employees is key, whether they’re the technicians who design the latest features or the caregivers who use them to support patient care. Understanding an employee’s career goals and working with them to develop a career path that leverages their subject matter expertise, career aspirations and remains connected to their organization is paramount. Without a strong team, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to enable many of the organization’s operational goals.
Due to the closure of several large regional health facilities, our region has experienced an explosion in the need for behavioral health support. With the majority of behavioral health patients arriving in our emergency departments, enhanced EHR functionality and referral capabilities will be deployed to help address this issue through the implementation of our behavioral health module.
Penn Medicine has made additional strides in value-based care reimbursement models. These relatively new financial models will require additional technological design of continuity of care functionality and data analytics reporting to properly track and report on patient activity and outcomes.
Creating further digitization to manage the entire patient engagement experience will help reduce friction in getting access to the doctors they need and the medical care patients need. Enhanced phone solutions, combined with a more seamless and personalized customer relationship management experience, will further engage our patients in their care in a more convenient and cost-effective way.
As a leading academic medical center, Penn Medicine has been and will continue to be at the forefront of incorporating precision medicine into healthcare using discrete genomic results and other research that has enabled breakthroughs in the EHR to provide the most optimal clinical care for patients.
We are beginning the early stages of analysis, exploring ambient listening technology. With the goal of reducing paperwork for our providers, allowing more physician/patient time, and improving overall physician satisfaction, we noticed that this new technology has the potential to be a game changer for our clinicians.
While I predict that 2023 will be another year of significant change; it will require organizations to demonstrate agility in executing their strategic plans. As seen in other industries, those who can successfully navigate the identified challenges will emerge from this turbulence even stronger than before.
Cooperation between information services and our operational representatives is increasingly important. Teamwork will be a critical component for successful healthcare organizations in 2023. I am proud of our organization’s past and present ability to collaborate in some of the most difficult situations, and I know this teamwork will take Penn Medicine to new heights in the coming year.
Mike Restuccia is Penn Medicine’s Chief Information Officer