The healthcare environment is constantly evolving, but a major change is upon us. One that affects almost all players: the shift toward value-based reimbursement. With healthcare facilities and providers being paid based on the quality of care given to patients, patient care is under much higher scrutiny.
"Information technology will play a large role in the efforts that are made to reduce medical care errors and variability"
The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) created the Triple Aim framework to help focus efforts into three categories to improve healthcare overall. So how do providers measurably increase quality of care? Industry says put more emphasis on proven tactics – care backed by scientific evidence to reduce error and variability.
In the past, physicians relied on expertise and individual knowledge to care for a patient – which is still very important – but in order to increase the quality of care for patients, providers are tasked with applying more proven medicine.
Evidence-based medicine (EBM) was originally defined as the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients. The practice of evidence-based medicine means integrating individual clinical expertise with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research.
Recently, electronic medical records (EMR) were made mandatory by the government to help cohesiveness among patients’ providers for the most educated care. And now, healthcare organizations are taking advantage of this new data by analyzing and reporting on what types of illnesses are going around a community at that time, and making it easily accessible for physicians. Vice President of Clinical Analytics at NorthShore University HealthSystem Ari Robicsek, MD, recently proved that physicians’ prescribing rate for patients who presented with a fever and cough varied from 18 to 83 percent. His researchers realized that when the physicians were informed of pandemic flu in the community, prescribing among all physicians went down significantly.
Role of information technology in EBM
The practice of EBM requires access to evidence and a change in the way medical decisions are made. Medical technology companies need to make this a priority as they are now tasked with showing how their technology will help further EBM to ultimately help improve patient care. Among these new technologies, many say that robotics will play a large role, especially in surgical medicine. With robotics and automation, less is left to interpretation and opinion and clinical data is easily obtained.
How can the medtech industry improve IT in its automated/robotic systems to adapt to EBM needs from practitioners?
1. All technology in medicine needs to be smart – connectivity is key.
Eliminate the need to manually enter commands or information. If possible, an open system would be the most beneficial so that different technologies can ‘talk’ to each other to produce the most well-rounded data.
For example, the Renaissance system that our company produces is compatible with several different imaging systems to help perform spine and brain surgeries. When considering a purchase of capital equipment for the operating room, hospitals and surgeons will have a hard time investing in technology that is not complementary of the other systems already being used at that facility.
2. Easy output of data in an organized format for dissection.
Firstly, with surgical robotics, it’s important that the data being captured during the procedure is comprehensive, easily accessible, and can be exported in a quality manner.
When analyzing surgical data to measure effectiveness of treatment, clinical research personnel need to be able to review the data in the way that makes the most sense for their purposes. Hospitals and clinicians will see value in a technology or software that allows for rich, measurable data that can be analyzed easily.
3. Allow practitioners to customize the technology for their needs.
Technology will be perceived as much more valuable if it allows some adjustments to fit the exact needs of the customer (hospital/ surgeon).
We have developed the Renaissance system to apply to a wide range of procedures: minimally-invasive spinal fusion, spinal fusion to correct deformity such as scoliosis, spine and brain biopsies and Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) to treat movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. We also work with our surgeons on a regular basis to determine how to make the system applicable to other procedures by adding certain accessories.
Information technology will play a large role in the efforts that are made to reduce medical care errors and variability. Robotics can enable reproducible results and for this reason, are increasingly being found in the hospital. The Renaissance system is used for spine and brain procedures, but there are currently robotic systems that assist in several other areas of surgery including, gynecologic and urologic surgery, knee replacement surgery, and even hair transplant procedures.
The operating room is transforming with the times and bringing richer, more meaningful data along with it, with the help of information technology.