Mission: Simple

Keeping it simple is often complex to accomplish. In healthcare IT, simple means excellent, actionable reports for clinicians. These must be well-organized, prioritized, easy to read and comprehensive—including patient data, images and physician comments—whether they come from radiology, cardiology, endoscopy, pathology or the lab. Simple means individual clinicians and referring physicians or, better yet, multidisciplinary teams can treat patients better and potentially faster. Informatics is the enabler to optimal treatment plans.

Better reports start with ordering the right exams. Computerized physician order entry (CPOE) is increasingly the tool of choice to assist in choosing and ordering exams per defined, tested standards of care. Once ordered, appropriate exams can be carried out in a timely way—and reports sent to physicians in the way they want them. Reports must be presented to the right people at the right time in a way they are easily, intuitively and quickly understood so the information can be acted on. It also must be integrated, retrievable and longitudinal to enable personalized medicine as we move toward more predictive and personalized care. Reports, structured or free form, must speak the language of the physician reading them. The next step is mining the data to extract and integrate clinical findings for best practices.

Simple is important as we move toward predictive medicine where imaging and lab tests will prognosticate the likelihood of the onset of cancer or heart disease in a matter of months or years. Once that risk is established, specialist(s) need to find the root of the problem and obliterate it before the patient’s health is affected. Not only will the prostate cancer patient in remission be monitored for recurrence, but blood tests and PET/CT scans will predict its return.

As you walk the halls of the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society annual meeting this month or listen in on educational sessions, or meet with a vendor on a new data storage solution or do internet research on a new RIS/PACS or CVIS—think “simple.” Actionable patient information for caregivers is healthcare IT’s mission.