by John W. Mitchell
, Senior Correspondent | November 12, 2018
From the November 2018 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
This might include, for example, responding quickly with an exam and reading on a Friday afternoon to keep a patient from being admitted to the hospital over the weekend.
Informatics and the road to higher-quality healthcare
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Whitfill, who describes himself as an informatician, said there is still a lot of groundwork that needs to be laid concerning the underlying informatics platforms, but acknowledges that radiology has been on the leading edge. In many ways, AI and informatics are related subjects and bring to mind similar concerns.
“What we’ve seen is that these tools are absolutely going to be disruptive and innovative, but they are not going to replace human beings, they’re just going to change what we do,” said Whitfill. “It will probably be true that the humans who use machine learning will win out over humans who don’t use machine learning.”
He and his network and practice have eight different value-based contracts covering 100,000 lives. They are active in implementing advanced informatics engineering to large healthcare databases. This includes a new project to create machine learning/natural language for lab and test data across 62 electronic health records, three different labs, and multiple radiology practices.
“What we believe is that if we can find the hidden patterns in all that siloed data, we’ll be able to predict with better accuracy who is going to get sick, and more importantly, who we can help before they get sick,” Whitfill said. "We think for a value-based organization like ours it will be a huge win for the patient and a huge win for the practice economically."
Informatics, he said, has been a vital part of their success, and he has been working for a while to roll out these tools in their practice and network. But the reality is that most of their success has come from physician and clinician engagement. The value of informatics is that it provides independent data to focus on process improvement – but the rest is up to people.
"Having our clinicians be the leaders of this organization and charting the path we need to take has been critical in getting the results we have," he added. "The biggest thing that informatics does in value-based care is if you put ten clinicians around a table, they'll give you ten different areas where there is an opportunity to fix the waste they see in their own practice.”
Making imaging more patient-centric
Patients have complaints about imaging. Whether the exams make them anxious or they don’t feel like they’re getting enough feedback during a scan, or they simply don’t understand their reports – there is a lot of room for improvement in the patient experience in radiology.