Leveraging Technology to Improve Healthcare Outcomes

Leveraging Technology to Improve Healthcare Outcomes

Dr. Lisa Charbonneau, Chief Medical Officer, Encompass Health [NYSE:EHC]

Dr. Lisa Charbonneau, Chief Medical Officer, Encompass Health [NYSE:EHC]

What are some of the major challenges and trends that have been impacting the Healthcare industry lately?

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the healthcare industry, both due to the strain on hospital systems and resources and the emotional toll on healthcare workers. These factors have combined to cause unprecedented staffing shortages across the continuum of care.

Another important trend is the increase in transparency in healthcare delivery. Consumers of healthcare do more research and are more technologically oriented than in past years. They want to ensure that they or their loved ones are getting the best care possible.

What keeps you up at night when it comes to some of the major predicaments in the Healthcare industry?

The industry is facing a critical shortage of nurses and other frontline healthcare workers. This has been a gradual trend that was exacerbated by the pandemic. Healthcare has had significant outmigration due to retirement and burnout. However, the outlook in the long term is bright, with an increase in medical and nursing school applications over the last two years.

"We have so many new tools available to improve the patient experience and effect outcomes"

Another predicament that causes me concern is the uncertainty surrounding the future of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, and other future infectious diseases that can cause a repeat pandemic. Although we are in a good place right now, we don’t know what the future will hold and there are still too many people getting sick and dying of COVID-19 every day.

Can you tell us about the latest project that you have been working on and what are some of the technological and process elements that you leveraged to make the project successful?

I am most excited about our new fall risk model. We leveraged our data from over our 140 inpatient rehabilitation hospitals to design a predictive algorithm that rates patients on their fall risk. We came up with about 50 metrics that contribute to this risk; then we worked with our EHR partners to enhance our documentation and communication to our team members, so we can implement patient-specific interventions to reduce a patient’s risk of falling. This is especially important for our setting, since all patients who come to a rehabilitation hospital are at some increased risk of falling due to mobility or cognitive impairments. We want to do everything we can to keep our patients safe while they are in rehabilitation, to improve their mobility and hopefully get discharged back to the community.

What are some of the technological trends that excite you for the future of the healthcare industry?

 We have so many new tools available to improve the patient experience and effect outcomes. In rehabilitation, we are especially fortunate to have constantly improving technology to use to treat our patients – everything from robotic exoskeletons to virtual reality. We also have enhanced technologies to help explain to patients and their families how they are progressing in their rehabilitation goals. We are excited about using our electronic health record in innovative ways leveraging our enterprise-wide data to design predictive algorithms to reduce patients’ risk of readmission to the acute care hospital and improve the quality of care that we deliver.  

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