IT Transforming the Healthcare Education Landscape

Praveen Chopra, Executive Vice President, Chief Information and Transformative Innovative Environment Officer, Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health

Praveen Chopra, Executive Vice President, Chief Information and Transformative Innovative Environment Officer, Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health

Technology as a Revolutionizing Tool

Jefferson’s evolution of technology in academia and health care begins with our strategic vision of reimagining health, education and discovery to create unparalleled value. This vision is pioneered by our President and CEO, Dr. Stephen Klasko. He believes that the fabric of health and education must change fundamentally, and that the role of technology is critical to that transformation. His opinions translate to people, and this is reflected in his decision to elevate the traditional CIO role into a forward-looking Chief Information and Transformative Innovative Environment Officer – a role about reinvention. The name alone represents how we are creating a digital economy in a new and imaginative way.

Through the powerful combination of re-imagination and technology, we’ve developed a telehealth program, which is one of the most tangible results of this new way of thinking. With patient experience at the forefront of our minds, we began thinking about how to leverage technology to deliver care to patients beyond the brick and mortar of Jefferson facilities. It was then that JeffConnect was born. The service provides on-demand virtual care through an app that allows patients to connect with emergency medicine physicians on their computer or mobile device. We completed the first phase of rollout to our employees and their families, and have received an overwhelmingly positive response. We are continuing to see an increase in interest as we’ve gone from having one to two calls per day a year ago to double-digit calls today. It’s only a matter of time until JeffConnect is available regionally.

“We are also simplifying processes for university administrations, by enabling online enrollment and degrees across colleges.”

We have also created a program for family members of our patients who are not able to be at the hospital to participate in physician rounds. The program, known as Virtual Rounds, allows a patient's loved ones to join a video conference and listen to the care team so the experience is personal and convenient. This program is also growing and we are continuing to evolve the network and infrastructure.

With more than 1,000 virtual visits since infancy, Jefferson’s telehealth program has gone from technology experimentations to a transformative new access model for patients. Our focus on telehealth is holistic in nature -- we have also created a telehealth fellowship program for physicians as well as a telehealth navigator certificate program for all clinicians.

We are developing another cool patient experience called the “Journey2Jeff” app. The app capability comes into play after a patient schedules an appointment with a Jefferson provider. Upon downloading the app, a custom itinerary outlining directions via car, foot, or public transportation will be available for the patient to follow from their home to appointment location. It will also provide options for parking and food – and allow patients to set reminders for their follow up appointments. Simple yet profound, right? The idea came out of a brainstorming session with one of our board members and a customer who provided insight into the health care continuum of an elderly family member and her experience across various Jefferson sub-specialties.

Change in Role of IT and CIO

Our formula of innovation in thinking, process, and technology extends to many areas of the enterprise where we are retooling current ways of operating so we can make the consumer experience better and more streamlined for our patients, students and employees. We are absolutely moving beyond the traditional IT department model, which has historically focused on incident management and “break fix” thinking. We used to wait for the development of technology before taking action. I am fortunate to be leading a team of leaders open to proactively thinking about technology innovation ahead of the curve.

I’ve already talked about how we’ve used this leadership philosophy to implement and expand our telehealth offerings. We are not only developing innovative technology platforms like JeffConnect, but we’re going deeper behind the scenes to change how we collect, analyze, and distribute data. At Jefferson, we are calling this the Center for Health Insights Management, which is about making the business of health, health education, and research smarter through the creation of a self-service, data-centric ecosystem. This begins with a data trust that will become an asset not only for Jefferson, but also for our community and partners. I see this center as a hub for creative collaboration to turn massive amounts of health data into meaningful and actionable insights. Those insights will help us to make better decisions, and innovate by deploying new capabilities such as student-faculty engagement, computational medicine, joint degree programs, cybersecurity, population health, etc.

Driving Process Transformation Efforts

In terms of clinical process transformation, we’ve collaborated with our colleagues in the Emergency Department using a data-driven solution to improve throughput. In June 2014, the ED was facing a high “Left without Being Seen” rate, which means patients were arriving and departing from the ED without being seen because of inefficiencies in their information collection process. We thought – what if all important information was streamlined, visual and available to all staff in real time so that they could attend to patients in a better way? In this case our innovation began with alternative thinking. The actual technology came next. We chose to implement a visual dashboard that allows ED staff to read process and take goal-oriented action in mere moments so they can move patients efficiently. The dashboard presents more than 10 strategic components of data including: how many patients are waiting, how long the patients have been waiting, how many patients are in the intake area, etc. so that staff can quickly assess status and state of the ED at any time. We also developed an app that would allow staff to access the dashboard data on their mobile device and be notified via push alert when saturation levels were reached.

The impact of this ED dashboard was incredibly positive, as the LWBS rate dropped from 4.6 percent to 1.2 percent after just a few weeks of use. The ED also substantially exceeded the national measure in performance via Press Ganey scores and placed comparably with the state including all ED types (academic, community, critical access) and volumes.

Our students are a vital part of our community at Jefferson and they have expressed the need for digital information, interaction, and guidance in a quick and convenient way. I’m happy to say we are on the path to delivering that experience. So on the academic side, we are similarly reframing traditional IT services to streamline and improve integration and use of systems supporting the academic mission of the University. For example, under the Institute of Emerging Health Professions, we are building new educational offerings. We are combining design engineering with medical education; enriching pharmacy education with degrees in population health; and creating new online programs for medical coding, cybersecurity and telehealth navigators. This is just the beginning. We are also simplifying processes such as the university administrations process by enabling online enrollment and degrees across colleges. And in the area of mobile technology, we will be helping our students, parents, faculty, and alumni manage their registration, performance, education, and get other information at their fingertips via a simple and easy-to-use app.

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