HCA, Google Partnership Leading the Way on Mobility Innovation
Today's technology is saving lives beyond the OR, and HCA Healthcare is leading the way in real-time and mobility innovation. In late May, the hospital company announced a new multiyear strategic partnership with Google Cloud focused on analytics-driven process improvement and digital transformation to provide actionable insights to help improve care. It's the latest in a line of high-tech investments for the healthcare leader, which operates 186 hospitals and approximately 2,000 sites of care nationwide.
Evolution of Health Tech
"I've seen technology move from being a support organization to an integral part of a strategy," said Marty Paslick, senior vice president and chief information officer for HCA Healthcare. "Clinicians want to find new and better ways to care for patients, and technology offers an important ingredient."
The partnership between the cloud giant and Nashville-based HCA Healthcare is aimed at building "next generation operational models focused on actionable insights and improved workflows," according to health system officials. Paslick said it was originally the vision of HCA Healthcare CEO Sam Hazen, who took the reigns in 2019. "He really started to challenge us by asking, 'How do we create a more real-time decision making organization?'" Paslick said.
"While we do process a lot of data in real time, we knew we had opportunities to do so in a more comprehensive, enterprise manner while also providing capabilities that could further assist decision making," he continued. "We had to take a fresh approach to what kind of tech we had available to us and ask ourselves if better infrastructure or tools would enable us to create a more real-time decision making organization."
Paslick compared the need for real-time decision support in healthcare to traffic apps that alert and reroute drivers miles before they approach a traffic jam. "Decision making can always be improved upon whether it is the depth of information or the speed in which it is delivered. We had to ask ourselves, 'Could we create that type of transformation in healthcare?' That had us reevaluate our infrastructure and our tools. We knew we could do better."
Ultimately, it was Google that offered HCA Healthcare leaders the infrastructure to modernize data management in a highly secure way and help caregivers make the most informed decisions possible. "We certainly want clinicians to leverage their tremendous knowledge and experience but also consider things we might be able to share to help enhance their own abilities," Paslick said.
The COVID-19 Factor
Real-time results proved especially critical during the peak of COVID-19, which redefined tech expectations for patients and staff, alike. HCA Healthcare providers went from 3,500 annual telehealth visits pre-pandemic to more than 1 million in 2020, creating a new demand for both virtual appointments and digital communication.
"How do you create a relationship that provides convenience, whether scheduling an appointment or updating a family on a surgery, and how do we create dialogue with patients on an ongoing basis?" Paslick asked. "Healthcare is really ripe to take digital patient experiences to a new level."
Mobility in 2021
To that end, HCA Healthcare is leading the way through mobility, connecting staff and providers through 90,000 mobile devices system wide. "We can build all the great analytics and insights we want, but without an effective mobility footprint, how do we deliver actionable insights?" Paslick asked. "Healthcare possesses one of the most mobile workforces in the world and having workflows that depend on a desktop seems counterintuitive."
Five years ago, HCA Healthcare piloted a secure communications platform from Mobile Heartbeat - technology that allowed nurses and other caregivers to securely communicate with each other. It added real meaning to the term "care team." It was such a success that HCA Healthcare bought the company and anticipates company-wide deployment of Mobile Heartbeat by the end of 2021.
"At first it seemed like a 'nice to have,' but that mobility footprint is as critical as any other clinical system we have," Paslick said. "Communication is key, and the ability for our care teams to be well coordinated is foundational."
Boston-based PatientKeeper, a workflow tool for physicians, was a similar success story. Today, the HCA Healthcare-owned company now helps 12,000 providers care for 250,000 patients a month through its mobility capabilities. A third mobile app, MyHealthONE, provides more than 3.5 million account holders appointment reminders, clinical data, class information and other actionable insights.
Leap of Faith
While few providers are positioned to purchase their own tech companies, Paslick said the questions leaders should be asking are the same. "It doesn't matter the size of the entity, it all comes down to the value you derive from an investment," he explained. "You have to weigh the value of an opportunity. Moving into the mobile world required a small leap of faith we knew we had to take. The results have exceeded our expectations."