Having worked as a hospital CIO and CMIO for seven years before joining Microsoft, I can definitely sympathize with my colleagues who are struggling to stay on top of new government rules, regulations, and timetables related to accountable care, meaningful use and ICD10 just to name a few. I remember back in the day all the time and energy that went into formulating our HIPAA readiness plan, not to mention all the money and effort spent getting ready for Y2K. Even though my job at Microsoft is demanding at times, I take solace every time I think about my friends and former colleagues who are mired in the complexities of working in a healthcare provider organization – be it a health system, solo hospital, clinic, or private practice.
If you are someone who is in such an environment as a provider, administrator or c-suite executive you are no doubt scanning the newly released Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) rules for Stage 2 Meaningful Use. You are likely scratching your head over how your organization will comply with some of those new rules. Sure, you have implemented or are implementing a hospital information system or certified electronic medical record solution. And true enough, if you made an informed and educated decision in selecting your new system, meeting many Stage 2 requirements won’t be too difficult because your new system does all that. For many of the rules (like upping orders in CPOE) it is just a matter of training your clinicians how to work in new ways and making sure they stick with it. Don’t get me wrong, I know how difficult even that can be. However, there are other aspects of Stage 2 requirements that your present EMR may not be able to handle all by itself. For example, systematically collecting and documenting demographic information or vital signs on patients before, during or after the point of care; sending electronic information to other provider organizations inside or outside your network; communicating with extended care facilities or nursing homes, etc. And then, there’s that sticky rule about providing patients with a copy of their health information within three days of discharge.
For many of these workflows you need tools that will help you communicate and collaborate in new ways including messaging, e-mail, voice, video and multi-party conferencing. For efficiently getting information to patients, you may need a patient portal. You will also need powerful analytics capabilities on all that data you are accumulating in your electronic records these days if you hope to improve your organization’s quality of care. You cannot improve what you cannot measure. You cannot improve unless you have ways to see the big picture of what is really going on in your hospital, clinic, or practice.
At Microsoft, we and our partners have the tools you need to close the loop on many Stage 2 requirements. Whether it is nailing down ways to help your care teams more effectively communicate and collaborate with each other and with care teams in other organizations, or ways to more efficiently capture information on your patients, or tools to help you track and manage your organizations relationships with its patients (customers), or powerful business intelligence and analytic capabilities to harness the power of “big data” – we and our partners have the software solutions and know-how you need. Furthermore, we can offer these solution areas on premises, in the cloud (public or private), or a combination of both. In addition, Microsoft stands ready to protect the privacy and security your patient data with business practices (including the signing of business associate agreements) that you expect from partners who comply with HIPAA.
Four words must be top of mind these days for any CIO, or for that matter anyone who works in healthcare. They are - Communication, Collaboration, Cloud, and Analytics. For more information, visit www.microsoft.com/health.
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft