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Population health, revenue cycle management on CIO's agenda

Marc Probst, CIO at Intermountain Healthcare, said his organization is taking strides to make population health happen, is investing heavily in data analytics, and more.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- At Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City, Utah, CIO Marc Probst said employees are working on furthering a number of initiatives in health IT including population health, data analytics and revenue cycle management. Probst explained further in this Q&A.

In terms of population health what do you think is going to come next? What tools are Intermountain using to make population health happen and move forward?

Marc Probst: In the area of population health we're really thinking of patient engagement and how do we move from just providing care to helping people with their health. You know it isn't just a nuanced difference, it's big. We [used to] credit ourselves with success by how full the hospitals were [and] how full the clinics were. Now we're looking at, how do we keep them out and how do we keep them healthier? That's completely different technology. And everything we've built was for people when they come in and [for giving] the very best care once they're there.

We're focused very much on portals [and] things that extend out to the consumer, to the patient. Things like portals, mobile platforms, everybody's got [them] on their phones now and none of this is new, a lot of people are talking about it. [We're also working with] extended care through wearables and through other monitoring devices, home monitoring. That whole infrastructure is new for us. It also creates a whole new series of data that we've not had to deal with before. Frankly, today we're not dealing with it well. Because, again, we need to get it into a standard that can then make it useable so that we can do the right analytics and help people stay healthier. We're also not really good at [asking], 'Why would you want to go to our portal? Why would you want to use my mobile technology to be healthier?' I don't think as an industry we're very good at that yet. But we're making strides and at Intermountain we're investing big time around mobile and we're doing a lot around wellness and trying to do more around patient engagement.

Is Intermountain investing in data analytics?

We're focused very much on things that extend out to the consumer.
Marc ProbstCIO, Intermountain Healthcare

Probst: Massive amounts. We've been involved with data analytics for at least 20 years. We've had an electronic data warehouse because of our focus on standardized data, normalized data. Our successes come through analytics across the organization. We are an analytics driven organization and I think it's been really good for us. That's why our quality is where it is, our costs are as low as they are. So yeah big-time invested in that. As we look at the new world, all these other pieces of big data [are] coming at us, we are invested in Hadoop, we're building a data lake so that we can do better analytics of that data [and be] a little more predictive in our analytics. We will continue to invest there, a lot.

In terms of revenue cycle management, what are you guys doing in that area?

Probst: Our current revenue cycle product is self-developed. We've had it for 30 years probably. It has aged well with us, we've been able to grow it. But because we've made the decision to go off our self-developed medical record and purchase [Cerner's EHR] we also decided to purchase Cerner's revenue cycle product. As we implement Cerner we will be moving to that Cerner revenue cycle.

What's the timeline for that?

Probst: It's begun. We took our first two hospitals up in February. A week from Friday we're going up with two more large hospitals and we'll be rolling it out probably over the next 12 to 18 months.

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