Dr. Alistair Erskine on Mass General Brigham’s digital health goals, investments

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Alistair Erskine, MD, is the chief digital health officer at Mass General Brigham in Boston, responsible for the health systems data management.
His role is vital to medical care and the systems health insurance business, and he said he is leading the system toward a more patient-centered method for digital health with consumerism trends in mind. Dr. Erskine joined the Beckers Healthcare podcast to go over how Mass General Brigham utilized information in new ways during the pandemic and what key investments to expect in the future.
Below is an excerpt from the discussion, modified for clarity and length. Click on this link to subscribe and download the full podcast today.
Question: Really considering the pandemic, how has it affected your brief- and long-lasting objectives? What is vital?
Those are some of the lessons that came out from the pandemic, and that is assisting us believe through how we improve the convenience of the healthcare services we offer for the client. How do we much better tune artificial intelligence in an unbiased method towards all patients we take care of so that we can help with decisionmaking?
Short term throughout the pandemic, we required to boost a number of virtual gos to we might manage. We needed to increase the adoption of individuals utilizing our client portal, and we required to find brand-new methods to treat patients in seclusion. There was a substantial scarcity in PPE, and that implied in our case we chose to put tablets on an IV pole in the rooms of clients that were isolated to keep them linked to their healthcare teams and family members when visitation was a problem.
We also required to produce a big number of new real-time dashboards to understand what was offered in the health system as an entire and redistribute our properties across the system. We saw a big uptick of people taking advantage of those dashboards.
The other thing is that we required to be truly great about innovating at the front line to be able to comprehend the new tools we could utilize. We had workers that were using attestation statements before they came into the medical facility to make sure they were COVID-negative, for instance. We were looking thoroughly across all the digital health tools to see if there were things we could carry out quickly to fill some of the care gaps.
Mass General Brigham has actually been a leader … [ in] making certain that scientists can compare notes and utilize the very same information structures to collaborate internally, but likewise with external parties in a way thats safe, and then ensuring there were methods for us to reach out to patients who were not calling us, however we understood were at danger. We had ambulatory remote patient monitoring programs and virtual nurse navigators that called patients to make certain they were OKAY. These were all things that wound up being very important in the short-term and will be solidified over the longer term.
Q: What are the essential investments you still plan to make in the next year?
AE: The pandemic certainly has been a catalyst to some level in regards to the digital health tools we use. It didnt always drastically change all the important things we were intending on doing. The type of financial investments that we intend on making in digital patient experience, things like client websites or the ability to sign in and do online scheduling and looking through a directory site to discover a medical professional that is right for the client, customer relationship management tools and the digital front door, all those kinds of financial investments continue as a means to be able to make sure that patients get to delight in the very same experience that they carry out in other markets in the healthcare space.
Patients are properly pressing us to try to mirror, to some extent imitate, the manner in which they experience other digital surfaces provided by retail and any variety of other locations. That will continue for sure. I think that we need to take into account the digital clinician experience and address the burnout and fragmentation the clinician feels by minimizing the variety of clicks, making certain we buy conversational AI and have a way of engaging with the system that does not need a keyboard and a mouse.

[The documentation systems] can have more natural language [for voice activation] in the method you talk to Siri or Alexa, in a way that keys up data for experts rather than leaving a specialist to hunt through the charts trying to find the things they frequently pull together. We likewise want to make certain that those interfaces are practical to them, and they can have more time invested with direct eye contact with the patient and after that think about what is the next best thing for the patient rather than needing to hunt through the record.
We likewise need to consider updating the method we train clinicians and staff in using our systems, moving far from the more conventional class environment, which hasnt been practical with COVID-19, which taught us how to do virtual training. We need to think about methods to do more simply in time and real-time gain access to, where if someone gets stuck and theyre using the system, they can call a number and after that have one of the supervisors swoop into their section as they are using it and reveal them how to place an order or write a note or look up an outcome.
Investments that are going to be actually seriously important are in a data community that in some methods centralizes the data management that is needed from all the transactional systems that we utilize in health care and disperses in a greater normal type data for advanced analytics that takes place closer to where the patient is. We wish to make certain the advanced analytics occurs right within the clinic and right within the health center with people who have the finest sense of what it actually indicates to be analyzed, however those folks arent the ones stuck needing to data manage and prepare the information for that analysis.
I also think well see investments that rely on AI to solve operational difficulties for things that are often in the background, such as supply chain concerns and even patient schedule optimization, pharmacy management and ambulatory situational awareness through remote patient monitoring. Having a mutual understanding of the clients that reveal up in your clinic, and significantly, also the ones that dont require extra assistance, will be crucial. We also wish to have methods to make sure we catch that population to ensure that everyone is taken care of.
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We required to increase the adoption of individuals using our patient website, and we required to discover brand-new methods to treat patients in isolation. We had ambulatory remote patient tracking programs and virtual nurse navigators that called patients to make sure they were OK. The kinds of investments that we plan on making in digital client experience, things like client portals or the capability to check in and do online scheduling and looking through a directory site to find a physician that is right for the client, consumer relationship management tools and the digital front door, all those types of financial investments continue as a means to be able to make sure that clients get to take pleasure in the same experience that they do in other industries in the health care area.
We likewise want to make sure that those interfaces are practical to them, and they can have more time invested with direct eye contact with the client and then think about what is the next best thing for the patient rather than having to hunt through the record.
I also think well see financial investments that turn to AI to fix operational obstacles for things that are sometimes in the background, such as supply chain problems or even patient schedule optimization, drug store management and ambulatory situational awareness through remote patient tracking.