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Hospital CIO talks Lean methods in healthcare and Connected Patient

PHOENIX -- Lean methods in healthcare allow Phoenix Children's Hospital CIO David Higginson to save money on IT systems and pay for innovative projects such as the Connected Patient.

Higginson says in this video recorded at the CHIME16 Fall CIO Forum that his application of Lean methods has made the hospital's health IT systems more efficient, while the Connected Patient initiative put adaptable Apple iPads in the rooms of 200 pediatric patients.

"Our whole initiative was to connect them back to what's going on in the hospital and also to connect them back with their families and their friends in the community so they weren't so isolated," Higginson says in the video from the annual fall conference of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives.

Higginson is also executive vice president and chief administrative officer of the 385-bed children's hospital, which is now in the process of adding the connected tablets to 150 more rooms. The tablets are centrally managed and are configurable for multiple languages and ages.

The first phase of the Connected Patient project was funded with a $200,000 grant from the James M. Cox Foundation, support that, in addition to Lean methods in healthcare, enables the hospital to shift budget items to other critical areas, according to Higginson.

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Meanwhile, Lean methods in healthcare, Higginson says in the video, are just as adaptable to health IT systems as the iPads are to individual patients.

Essentially, the Lean approach means eliminating unnecessary spending and systems. Sometimes, this means angering vendors that lose business, Higginson said.

"The first thing is can we just get rid of something? We don't need it, maybe we needed it five years ago, we don't need it anymore," he says. "Or is there a better way to do it now? Maybe there's a cheaper, better alternative."

Higginson says he spends a lot of time scouring contracts and negotiating with vendors to drive prices down.

"You'd be amazed," he remarks with a smile. "If you ask, you get offered the discount."

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