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A call for healthcare IT to establish a culture of community

Contrary to popular opinion, healthcare is not the only industry that took the misguided “ready, fire, aim” approach to incorporating technology into their workflows and business processes.

It was not long ago when finance, utilities, retail, and education were extremely awkward (to put it nicely) in their utilization of emerging IT. It took years of missteps and countless conversations amongst a host of stakeholders before leaders could get their bearings and create the technology-integration strategies that are now second nature within their given fields. Without openly sharing their successes and mistakes, and actively gathering as many perspectives as possible, our banks, stores, and schools would still be marred within the “paralysis by analysis” phase of adoption where many feel healthcare is still trapped.

I’ve spent the past several months covering a variety of healthcare conferences and executive forums where I have heard many IT integration discussions that are similar in nature to those previously conducted in other industries. These presentations and meetings examined a wide range of historically persistent concerns, but I left each event feeling a new sense of optimism that I see growing within our industry as a whole.

At the heart of this positive change is a renewed emphasis on collaboration within our field. When healthcare providers are able to leverage more technology within their workflows, they share their positive results with their colleagues. When vendors are able to develop new equipment and applications, they influence the marketplace’s direction as well as future iterations of today’s solutions. This constant exchange of ideas is vital for the development of new healthcare IT practices. Without it, we cannot see beyond our own foxhole and effectively attack industry-wide issues.

With intimate executive forums like iHT2, it looks as though we have finally turned a corner by establishing a culture of collaboration. Have we, however, truly established a genuine culture of community? Rather than simply speaking with our counterparts from other organizations, we need extended conversations occurring across all functions and levels within our healthcare community.

Where can front-line caregivers share their very personal patient experiences with vendors? Where can hospital administrators learn about emerging technologies that may be more closely aligned with their unique needs? Where can both sides discuss ways in which our industry may approach our shared mission to use current and future IT to provide better care at lower costs? I see how HIMSS provides miles of elevator pitches, but there is little time or space (literally and figuratively) for one-on-one conversations among stakeholders about the unique challenges individual organizations face daily.    

Fortunately, in the area of clinical communications, such a dynamic forum exists where administrators and practitioners from leading hospitals can pose questions and develop personal relationships with an industry leading vendor: the Voalte User Experience conference (VUE).  

I was able to attend VUE last year and got to experience the community and idea sharing first hand. On November 9 – 11, leading healthcare IT and clinical professionals will gather in Sarasota, Florida, to share their successes and challenges regarding current and emerging strategies. It’s exciting that HIT Leaders and will be in attendance this year as well.

Trey Lauderdale, Founder and CEO, Voalte
Trey Lauderdale, Founder and President, Voalte

“VUE is about making a meaningful difference with care team communications, safely and efficiently, today and in the future,” says Trey Lauderdale, Voalte Founder and President. “When I see the thought leaders and organizations planning to attend VUE16, I can’t imagine a better group of people to work with as we bring clinical communication front and center to drive better patient outcomes and increased efficiency in healthcare. As an industry, we have a lot of work to do over the coming months and years. While we’ve seen a lot of changes, the rate of change is going to continue to accelerate. As a community, all of us play a pivotal role in making that a reality.”

Lauderdale’s sentiment is very powerful considering the historically glacial pace of clinical communication evolution in the past generation or so, compared with how profoundly clinical communication has developed in the last couple of years. It is notably similar to the sea changes that have occurred in other industries.

Adam McMullin, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Voalte

Voalte Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Adam McMullin, who joined the healthcare industry a decade ago, witnessed firsthand many process improvement and IT implementation strategies outside our field, and he sees the need today for a tighter sense of community in healthcare.

“There are many unique issues in healthcare that don’t exist in other industries,” says McMullin, “but there is also a lot you can take from those environments and apply to our work in healthcare. Most forward-thinking health system leaders I know fully agree that we have to stop thinking we have the right answers. We must collaborate even with our competitors and start asking the right questions around how redesign the work, just like banking and finance did two decades ago. By doing so, they learned their communities of influence were much broader than they ever realized. That’s why the kinds of discussions we aim to have at VUE16 are so important to our future, not only in the area of clinical communication, but in healthcare as a whole.”

The healthcare industry’s ultimate goal is to have healthy populations. Our organizations are taking in patients, and they are working to transform them, improve them, and heal them. During this process, to speak like an industry outsider looking at their own workflows, we don’t want defects. In healthcare, defects translate as adverse events, and few areas of healthcare IT have the same top-end potential to mitigate these events than clinical communication.

The panel discussions and presentations at VUE16 will focus upon improving workflows and reducing adverse events. Featured healthcare leaders from across America will share how they’ve implemented smartphones, integrated alarm management and utilized their EHR with a mobile care team communication strategy. These are the types of lessons and best practices that may be critical to the next wave of clinical communication. 

Lauderdale says, “VUE16 will assist our customers in making the most of their clinical communication implementations. Those in attendance will return to their organizations with new strategies and new industry contacts that will enable them to maximize their current resources and move closer to our shared goal of better patient care. ”

We need more dynamic forums like VUE16. These environments allow for personal interactions that could not exist otherwise, allowing stakeholders a chance to share their unique perspectives with their peers. They allow for the healthcare industry as a whole to get on the same page in terms of current capabilities and future goals, pushing us closer toward the culture of community that is so vital to our development.