Health IT specialists: The unsung heroes of value-based care

Radiology’s shift to value-based care has caused providers to focus on patient experience more than ever before. What makes patients happy? What makes them comfortable? How do you get them more involved in their own care? Asking these questions is the easy part, of course—it’s answering them and then making those answers a reality that can be a significant challenge.

Radiologists are lucky they can turn to health IT specialists for assistance with the implementation of patient-centered care. As the change from volume to value continues, user experience (UX) designers throughout the country are being asked to build efficient, patient-friendly solutions that have a huge impact on care delivery without breaking the bank. And that’s no easy task!

At SIIM 2017 in Pittsburgh, I attended a whiteboard session that explored the different ways health IT specialists bring patient-centered design to life. The session, “Applying Patient-Centered Design to Healthcare IT,” featured input from Christopher Deible, MD, PhD, director of radiology informatics at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), and two UPMC UX designers. It was fascinating to consider patient-centered care from the point of view of the UX designer; their perspective often goes largely unnoticed, which is a real shame.

Deible and the other presenters emphasized that collaboration was vital for successful implementation of patient-centered care. If UX designers don’t truly understand the problems radiologists are experiencing, how are they supposed to do anything to help? In addition, the designers and clinicians must both approach their collaboration without making assumptions. The two sides can learn from one another, but only if they begin the process with open minds.

I also learned more about some of the preferred methods IT departments use when applying patient-centered design, including silent observation, conducting one-on-one interviews and mapping clinician experiences. Again, I don’t always view major trends in radiology from the point of view of the IT department, so this was all helpful to hear.

That’s the beauty of attending conferences such as SIIM 2017, isn’t it? You arrive looking at things one way and leave with a whole new perspective. The session was a great reminder that adapting to new trends in patient care is not something radiologists can do alone.

So let’s toast the health IT specialists, shall we? Without them, imaging groups wouldn’t be able to properly adapt to the changing times and business would suffer dramatically. A strong working relationship between clinicians and their IT colleagues can be the difference between a failing provider and one that flourishes.