An HIT Moment with ... is a quick interview with someone we find interesting. Dennis L’Heureux is SVP/CIO of Rockford Health System of Rockford, IL.
What are your most important IT projects at Rockford Health System? Which ones represent a change in strategy from just 2-3 years ago?
The most significant IT undertaking at RHS is the introduction of an integrated electronic medical record. This said, it seems that we can tag almost every project we do as “important”. Among other important projects are C-PACS, Bed Management / Patient Flow, Utilization Management, and Patient Dietary Service.
Many of these projects were defined as needed during the past three years but are just getting underway. Strategically, however, we are now exploring the feasibility of a more tightly integrated approach.
You’ve said that the hospital’s transcription program is cost-competitive with offshoring because of speech recognition. What benefits have you seen, and how does dictation and transcription fit into your electronic medical records strategy?
Before leveraging speech recognition technology, we could not seem to compete with offshore transcription options. As we analyzed costs, we found that typical employee benefit costs measured in cost per line seemed to be the component that made us uncompetitive.
However, speech recognition — we use Enterprise Turbo Speech from Nuance — has provided us the ability to drive transcription productivity high enough to offset this disadvantage. Additionally, it is important to note that in-sourcing our transcription workload also increased the qualitative satisfaction that our physicians demanded.
As we transition to an EMR, we believe that we will use voice recognition to allow physicians to add narrative to their patient’s records. We are in the process of taking a look at the benefits of Dragon Medical, which would allows our physicians to dictate directly into our EMR for real-time documentation.
What changes do you anticipate from healthcare reform, specifically with regard to reimbursement?
I believe that healthcare reform will increase volume and reduce reimbursement. Overall, providers will not fare well if they do not align their cost per unit of volume to the corresponding reimbursement per unit of volume. As bundled payments are offered, this will create a need for more cost accounting detail.
Are you considering any innovative technologies or vendors that the average hospital CIO would not have heard of?
There are many innovative technologies being introduced. For example, natural language processing and script digitization. However, many CIOs are not well positioned to take risks since budgets are razor sharp and it is difficult to prove ROI beyond a paper exercise.
That is why I believe it will be difficult for new products to find any kind of market penetration unless they are built into existing, well-known products.
What are some ways that the IT department interacts with the clinical front lines to improve patient care?
Technology is hard, but process change is harder. IT is learning that much of what it does relates to facilitating change, and this cannot be done without direct involvement with care givers at the point of care.
Integrated implementation teams are the norm these days, whereby IT analysts must work in tandem with those that are to optimize the utilization of the expensive information systems we invest in.