Hospitals need to copy airline, bank, retail e-business models
Healthcare CEO suggests having patients provide personal health data via tablets
Computerworld - NEW ORLEANS -- Warner Thomas, CEO of Louisiana's largest healthcare system, sees genius in the way airlines, banks and retailers like Walmart and Amazon let users choose service preferences and the businesses gather insight into personal buying habits.
As hospitals become overwhelmed with IT initiatives created by federal mandates and mobile tech advances, they need to adopt IT models that let patients to do the lion's share of scheduling and medical data entry.
"If I said to you, you've got to call on the phone, wait on hold and they'll get to you ... you can't use the Internet anymore, you'd freak," he said. "But back in 1995, we were like, I don't want to go on the Internet. I don't want to do all this work."
To be successful in the future, healthcare systems should emulate the airline, bank and retail industries as a means of streamlining workflows and reducing labor costs, he said.
Thomas, CEO of Ochsner Health Systems, was speaking to a packed hall Monday at the HIMSS 2013 Annual Conference and Exhibition here.
"There are three things I know: One, our customers want things more mobile; two, they want to get it faster; and three, they want it cheaper. Pretty basic," Thomas said, adding. "Are we giving it to them?"
Thomas cited how bank automated teller machines (ATMs) have reduced the need for bank tellers while adding customer convenience, and how airline reservation systems allow consumers to purchase tickets and choose their seats online without personal contact.
He also lauded airlines for reducing the number of flights while making boarding times more accurate -- and thus significantly boosting profits.
Airlines used to base a plane's estimated time of arrival on when the pilot was in a landing pattern, "and it was wrong 70 to 80% of the time," Thomas said.
Airlines now use data analytics, weather conditions, unique airport dynamics and the time of day a plane in calculating departure and arrival times. Today, the estimates are right 80% of the time and ground crews are rarely idle and planes no longer sit on tarmacs waiting for gates to become available.
"That saves them tens of millions of dollars a year. These are the kinds of things we ought to be thinking about," he said.
Walmart and Amazon use algorithms to see not only what consumers have purchased, but also what they don't choose, which helps the companies determine how to better market products.
Walmart generates 2.5 petabytes of data every hour from one million customers that visit their brick and mortar and online retail sites, Thomas said.
With eBooks, Amazon knows which books a customer looked at and didn't buy, how fast he or she read a book that was bought, or whether the customer started reading a book but didn't finish it.
"They use this data to help us buy more stuff from them. Why don't we do that in healthcare?" Thomas asked.
Thomas suggested that patients be handed a tablet when they check in at a health care office to let them list family medical history, current conditions, current and past medications and other information.
Conversely, healthcare systems should be able to access insurance claims data so that they have more complete patient information that can then be automatically added to a personal electronic medical record (EMR). If a patient goes to another healthcare facility, the claims data should automatically update their primary facility, he said.
"Even though our system may be integrated, one-third of patient care happens in other hospitals and clinics," he said. "We have to have all that data put together."
Thomas challenged IT executives to learn what patients want and to help create systems that address those needs, while cutting costs and improving care.
"When we put systems in, do they provide better and safer patient experiences? Can you check that box? Do you have a situation where you're helping to optimize it?" Thomas said. "Are you helping us optimize systems? Do you understand the problems we face as an organization?"
Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian, or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is email@example.com.
Healthcare and IT
- HIPAA rules, outdated tech cost U.S. hospitals $8.3B a year
- How big data will save your life
- WebMD, Qualcomm build consumer cloud for mobile health data
- Lack of healthcare IT workers slows tech progress
- U.S. doctors don't believe patients need full access to health records
- Bill Clinton calls for healthcare price transparency, embracing IT to cut costs
- Physicians may be marginalized as mobile tech engages us in healthcare
- IBM: Watson will eventually fit on a smartphone, diagnose illness
- Hospitals need to copy airline, bank, retail e-business models
- Health providers can't find, keep IT staff
Read more about Healthcare IT in Computerworld's Healthcare IT Topic Center.
- Google I/O 2013's Coolest Products and Services
- 10 Star Trek Technologies That are Almost Here
- 19 Generations of Computer Programmers
- 25 Must-Have Technologies for SMBs
- A walking tour: 33 questions to ask about your company's security
- 15 social media scams
- The 7 elements of a successful security awareness program
With the promise of big data (solving the unsolvable problems, informing better decision making, creating new products and services, discovering patterns and acting on them, etc.) on the horizon, what has really changed? Does this mean that everything we know and do with not-so-big data should be tossed?
- IT Certification Study Tips
- Register for this Computerworld Insider Study Tip guide and gain access to hundreds of premium content articles, cheat sheets, product reviews and more.
- Case Study: Hospital Turns to Email Archiving Solution to Ensure Regulatory Compliances
- Read this case study to learn how a cloud-based email archiving solution enabled the hospital to meet government mandates and helps avoid thousands...
- Case Study: In-the-Cloud Email Service Replaces Three Point Products
- Read this case study for more information on a comprehensive in-the-cloud email service to help replace three point products.
- Case Study: Simplifying the Transition to Exchange 2010 with Email Management Solutions
- Read this case study to learn how a cloud-based email management solution greatly simplified the company's transition to Exchange 2010.
- Intelligent Systems: A Prescription for Health Care Transformation
- Facing an onslaught of regulatory changes and market pressures, health care providers are grappling with how to transform existing services as part of...
- The Importance of Network Time Synchronization
- Your network is time stamping files, email, transactions, etc., while your server logs are recording the transactions in case you need that information.... All Healthcare IT White Papers
- Becoming An Analytics Driven Organization
- Join us on Tuesday, June 18, 2013, 11:00 AM EDT and learn how your agency can create an analytics culture that will enable...
- 3 Reasons Why Sepaton is the World's Fastest Backup Solution
- Leading analyst, Storage Switzerland learns how Sepaton backs up and deduplicates massive data volumes while maintaining the industry's fastest performance - all in...
- Enterprise File Sharing: All You Need to Know
- Security. Scalability. Control. These are just some of the many benefits of enterprise cloud file-sharing that you'll discover in this KnowledgeVault, packed with...
- Bridging HTTP and FTP with FileXpress Internet Server
- What if you could take an FTP server on your internal network, and allow external users (partners or customers) to securely access it...
- MFT and FileXpress - An Overview
- Business users and applications exchange files on a regular basis. File transfer is a core part of the flow of business activity. All Healthcare IT Webcasts