Dr. Robecca Quammen is the founder of Quammen Health Care Consultants. She has synthesized a lifelong career in healthcare ranging from hospital leadership, to large software vendor to private consulting. She recently completed doctoral studies with research on human intuition and its impact in information systems success. With healthcare as the context for this research, findings suggest that healthcare has only begun to scratch the surface in its understanding of best to engage individuals in the adoption and use of information systems. Her tenure and engagement in this industry have fostered a comprehensive understanding of everyday operational workflow, industry regulation, physician and clinician engagement, patient engagement, quality, finance, and the ever evolving US healthcare delivery system. Here she talks to Finance Monthly about the US healthcare sector
Quammen provides staffing solutions – are there any skill shortages in the sectors that you provide help with?
Healthcare is particularly burdened today by resource shortages in all areas related to information systems. The CIO role, with the exception of the largest healthcare delivery systems, remains absent from the executive or C-suite and consequently absent from decisions regarding IS. Decisions involving IS strategy, priorities, and funding should be led by the expertise this role brings to the table. Rather, it seems many who operate a cell phone with downloadable apps now believe they understand complex systems, however this level of exposure is inadequate to prepare for the complexities present in enterprise level systems. Our industry actively blames software vendors, technology companies, government regulations, outside consultants, and others for failed electronic record initiatives when many are simply a failure in leadership, engagement, and accountability. This is evidenced by the fact that the very same software can be wildly successful in one environment but deemed a failure in another environment.
The good news is that healthcare systems do not have to go it alone when it comes to information systems. We firmly believe there is a strong argument to be made for alternative staffing solutions such as outsourcing, co-sourcing, and interim staffing. The knowledge and skill required to keep up with electronic health record product portfolios containing upwards of 20 – 30 unique modules or products can be met with staffing solutions designed to provide contemporary skill without the traditional burden to recruit, hire, train, and retain.
Our consultancy is differentiated by our willingness to help organizations get work done. We provide the alternative staffing services that help healthcare organizations turn their visions into realities. As such, providers get the level of support needed, under a unique pricing model that makes our services exceptionally affordable. Indeed, healthcare organizations can choose exactly what they need from our array of service levels such as:
- CO-SOURCING, where Quammen team members work side-by-side with internal team members, assuming operational staff roles
- APPLICATION SOURCING, where Quammen leaders take the helm doing what it takes to recruit, train, and retain staff for specific information technology roles.
- TECHNOLOGY SOURCING, where Quammen consultants ensure information technology solutions meet strategic goals and end user computing needs.
- INTERIM MANAGEMENT, which enables organizations to bridge short or long term gaps before information technology initiatives are negatively impacted.
- CONSULTANCY, where our professionals successfully implement expert software or technology solutions to meet episodic needs.
Quammen has an extensive website presence. As the healthcare world becomes increasingly digital, how important to you is making sure that your company remains open and accessible?
Unless you are a company providing a niche product or service to an immediately local clientele, there is no way to avoid a digital presence that is open and accessible. But open and accessible is just the beginning. Consumer behaviour changes daily as the reliance on and access to technology increases. Patient portals, physical fitness, physiological monitoring, prescription and medication management apps for any function imaginable are just a few of the ways healthcare has gone digital for the consumer. Responding to this level of informed and engaged consumer is a top priority for companies such as ours as we support healthcare delivery systems vying for consumer loyalty and satisfaction.
For companies such as ours, staying ahead of this movement means that we are constantly assessing available industry solutions and shifts in technologies. We are also paying a great deal of attention to the development of the so called “share economy” in its many forms and definitions as it pertains to healthcare systems. Companies like Uber and Zocdoc are challenging healthcare to think differently about services.
Do you find that hospitals you work with are just as equipped to deal with digital trends, or is this an area in which your help is often required?
Many of our current customers are among the several thousand standalone community hospitals with less than 300 beds. Hospitals in this segment of our industry are facing daunting challenges, many of which threaten their existence. The media carries daily stories of hospital bankruptcy, mergers, acquisitions, and affiliations. Data is key to these organizations. Without it they are powerless to define their markets, direct their resources to their best advantage, predict trends, and make sound strategic decisions.
Generally speaking, the larger institutions have the resources to meet these challenges. Frequently however their size alone renders them unable to move at a pace that is dynamic and strategic.
Following on from that, what are the typical issues associated with clinical documentation practises? Is digitalisation becoming essential now?
Digitalisation is essential now. Discrete, actionable data gathered with every patient encounter forms the foundation for future analysis and decision-making. I recently read The Digital Doctor which provided an excellent summary of the progression of the patient chart and the masters it serves today. Historically it was an accounting by the physician of a patient’s condition. Almost a diary of sorts documenting daily signs and symptoms. Today, this same record has come under debate as owned by the patient and serving the legal system. It is voluminous, carrying both discrete machine generated data along with physician/clinician notes. A significant problem in our industry today is the weight of the documentation requirements on providers who lament less and less time to spend with the patient.
Can you tell us about any recent success stories that Quammen has had a hand in?
Our hospitals enjoy many successes as measured by the industry. With our staffing solutions many of our hospital and physician clients have achieved Most Wired designation, Meaningful Use attestation, and HIMSS Level 6.
What are the current difficulties within the US healthcare sector? Is there anything on the horizon that Quammen is preparing to deal with?
Lately, I’ve been drawn to the thinking espoused by Jonathan Bush, the CEO of athenahealth and author of “Where It Hurts.” Bush recognizes that healthcare organizations – and, therefore patients – are not having their needs met with current software and services. And he is calling for more disruption in the industry. Indeed, I couldn’t agree more.
Moving forward, Quammen will unravel opportunities in the second generation EHRs that would complement the rising push to cloud and mobility. Moreover, the firm will continue focusing on rapid prototyping of recently patented software product that would bridge one of the many gaps between the EHR and Big Data.
In fact, at Quammen, we recently introduced a solution that can help to stir things up and create the disruption that is needed in healthcare. As a real-time, cloud-based care management analytics solution, AndonCare proactively guides clinicians to navigate all aspects of clinical care as it unfolds. As such, the solution goes far beyond what electronic health records alone can accomplish, AndonCare enables clinicians to proactively:
- Manage complex processes in a dynamic environment
- Deliver optimal care by responding to visual cues
- Easily detect and avoid care hazards before they occur
- Continually set priorities to enable precision care based on actual patient progress
- Meet a variety of regulatory and patient safety goals
- Identify missing, redundant, or unnecessary tasks
- Recognize best practice variations and immediately change course, if needed
With such smart patient care management in place, healthcare organizations can truly experience the operational process improvements that can lead to the very best outcomes for patients. And, as a result, organizations will be able to improve overall quality, reduce medical errors, shorten length-of-stay and cut costs. In fact, AndonCare can bring all the sought-after benefits that will help organizations succeed under emerging value-based care models. It’s truly the type of disruption that is needed not only to challenge the status quo – but to get real, quantifiable results.