Nemours Children’s Health: Deploying Technology to Meet Consumers Where They Are | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT

How does a pediatric health system engage families more fully and improve service and loyalty? The leaders at the Wilmington, Delaware-based Nemours Children’s Health System have been on a multi-year journey around those goals, Gina Altieri told her audience gathered at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in downtown Denver, during the Health IT Summit in Denver, sponsored by Healthcare Informatics.

On Friday, July 13, Altieri, the senior vice president, corporate services, at Nemours, spoke on the topic “Developing a Technology Strategy to Increase Patient Engagement, Improve Satisfaction, and Deliver Better Care,” tracing her organization’s journey forward in working to enhance consumer loyalty through technology-facilitated improvement of care delivery and service quality.

Nemours Children’s Health System, which is anchored by the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, and by the Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando, treats 250,000 children every year, for a total of 1.7 million annual encounters, across 90 pediatric care locations in five states. All of its physicians are employed. And the health system sponsors more than 300 active research projects and clinical trials within its Nemours Research Centers for Excellence division. Furthermore, Nemours achieved Stage 7 status on both its inpatient and outpatient sides, in 2017, recognizing its high level of electronic health record (EHR) development, by the Chicago-based Health Information & Management Systems Society (HIMSS), and in February 2011, received the HIMSS Davies Organizational Award of Excellence for 2010, for its effective use of health information technology to improve the safety and quality of patient care.

Foundations first

Recapping a history of “two decades of IT evolution,” Altieri noted that “We decided a long time ago to eliminate all the separate clinical and business systems we had. In 1999, we quickly installed Cerner for inpatient, and then started to install our outpatient EMR. Several years later, we decided to have the revenue cycle management and all business systems put on two high-end platforms, and then decided to have all our applications on one platform, and replaced Cerner with Epic. And then we decided to dabble in telehealth, and we were building our Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando. And that really was all of the technical infrastructure we needed, in order to do what we’re doing now, as well as to build the team we needed, to leverage all that technology.”

Gina Altieri speaking at the Health IT Summit in Denver on July 13

Further, Altieri recounted, “When I first started, we had paper charts, and a lot of equipment we didn’t realize, and no sense of organization. And you really cannot function like that it today’s world; it’s just too expensive and inefficient. And the information security aspects are pretty important right now; so we really did need to invest information security; the government’s demanding it, but so are consumers. The other thing we’re doing,” she said, “is that because we had these systems for 20 years—the lifetime of a child—we had a lot of very valuable data. So we had been using the data behind the scenes, and we’ve been providing it to the frontline in an easy self-service way, so that the physicians have access to the data, the executives do, so that more and more people actually understand what the data’s been telling them. That’s been effective.”

Innovation for a purpose

A lot of different technology-facilitated innovations are taking place right now at Nemours, Altieri reported. For one thing, the health system’s leaders decided to go ahead and post ratings for all physicians, including consumer comments, on the organization’s website. “That wasn’t an easy task, because we posted them all, good and bad,” and there was some physician alarm at the prospect. “But we’re helping them to know what’s happening in real time. So when they see a Press Ganey result, for example, they can understand what’s going on in the consumers’ minds. And it’s been very helpful.”

Meanwhile, she added, “At Nemours, we have one integrated radiology department, so all the radiologists read all the studies. In fact, we have a 13-minute turnaround for all the [digital images], which is pretty remarkable.”

Further, Nemours has been successful with a remote-monitoring system in which trained paramedics monitor patients in their patient rooms 24/7. Up to 400 patients are monitored continuously at any time, in both the Wilmington and Orlando facilities, from a single location at the Orlando hospital. Nemours was the first pediatric hospital system in the world to install such a system, and, Altieri noted, parents have been strongly in favor of the capability.

On the softer side, she mentioned, “We also bring Santa from the North Pole to patients in the child life area or to the bedside. The elves are actually executives from some of the vendor companies. And the North Pole is actually next door to my office. The children are enchanted by this.”