Cleveland Clinic: A glimpse into how technology can drive quality healthcare

Without a plan, data is just data. For technology to truly transform care, we need to know why we are using it, create a process and have people in place to carry out that process.

Technology captures our every move – our steps, our food intake, our blood pressure, our sleep patterns. But, is this abundance of data useful? Does it help us? Does it drive value? Does it help our doctors enable better control of our health and make positive improvements?

– In many cases, no. –

Consider today’s “wearable” technology: while it provides considerable information, it isn’t necessarily useful for healthcare providers or patients. To make it valuable and actionable, we need to focus on the right group of people, using the right type of measurements. For example, tracking steps in a healthy group may not tell us much. However, tracking steps in a group of patients who just had knee surgery could be compelling. For example, we could identify patients who haven’t taken many steps and intervene to find out why. Do they still have pain? Swelling? Possible complications?

Used properly, technology and data can improve our lives – from day-to-day healthy living to prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and home care. Electronic medical records (EMRs) make this data accessible and actionable.

At Cleveland Clinic we have seen the benefits first-hand of efficient, connected and accessible care, for example:

  • Specialized apps that regularly assess patient conditions. A Multiple Sclerosis app, for example, measures motor, vision and cognitive performance, informing the caregiver whether further evaluation or a change to the patient’s care plan is needed. Similarly, the MyEpilepsy app helps patients and physicians effectively manage epilepsy, keeping a daily record of seizure activity and tracking progress. Linked to an outcome, data aligns with knowledge.
  • iPad-based technology that helps determine when it is safe for an athlete to return to their sport, by measuring their abilities after an injury with their own personal baseline.

  • A command center that remotely monitors our sickest ICU patients in more than 200 beds across our health system, stratifying patient risk based upon clinical algorithms and notifying care teams immediately of important changes. The program has demonstrated positive impacts on length of stay, mortality and other quality metrics.
  • An Inventory Management System that connects our clinical information with supply chain systems, allowing just-in-time delivery and restocking of supplies as they are consumed during a patient’s hospital stay. The program tracks inventory levels, orders, and deliveries of supplies. By integrating this data across our enterprise, we can share available inventory between locations, control costs and most notably, enhance patient safety.
  • The Vital Scout System that consumes a patient’s blood pressure, pulse, respiratory rate and oxygen saturation and proactively notifies caregivers whether interventions are required to better stabilize the patient.

EMRs allow us to gather all of this disparate information and make sense of it for the benefit of the patient.

If used properly, EMRs drive quality as a core foundational tool. However, just having an EMR won’t improve quality; how you use them and the software and systems within them will help drive safety and quality.

We’re only at the brink of what we can accomplish when our technologists partner with our clinicians to develop solutions that enhance patient care and make our caregivers’ lives easier.


Dr. William Morris

About the author

Dr. William Morris

William Morris, MD was certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in 2007. He was named Director of Clinical Informatics in 2007, with an area of focus on implementation, optimization, and innovation and promoted to Associate Chief Medical Information Officer in 2012. A prolific inventor and innovator, Dr. Morris started and currently directs the Clinical Solutions Center at Cleveland Clinic. In 2008 Dr. Morris was named Innovator of the year for his work in implementing physician order entry for Cleveland Clinic and also received Innovator awards in 2010, 2011 and 2012 for work around healthcare software.


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