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Optimum’s Executive Interview Series

Welcome back to Optimum Healthcare IT’s “4 Questions with…” series, where we interview top executives in the Healthcare IT space. We search for the leaders with track records of service excellence, who are passionate about their work and make patient safety their top priority. In this installment, we have four questions for Ron McKinnon, Chief Information Officer, Ellis Medicine.

OHIT: Ellis Medicine just transitioned to the Cerner Millennium. What drove this decision and how will this change affect hospital operations?

Ron McKinnon: Like many small to mid-sized health care organizations across the country, Ellis was using several disparate systems to manage care delivery with a subset of clinical departments still on paper. The decision to transition to a fully integrated electronic health record was primarily centered around improving patient safety, achieving quality outcomes, eliminating data silos and reducing operating expenses.  After being on Millennium for just over 5 months, the organization is already starting to see many of the benefits of being on one platform.

OHIT: What technologies have Ellis Medicine implemented to improve data sharing between patients and clinicians?

Ron McKinnon: With Cerner Millennium, we implemented a patient portal across acute and ambulatory settings and everything in between. We are the first health system in the region to adopt this technology and we have had an overwhelming response with an average of 250 plus patients signing up daily. Our patient portal provides patients the ability to schedule appointments, email their physician’s office, receive test results and ultimately better manage their healthcare needs.

OHIT: What role does data play in improving patient care?

Ron McKinnon: Data plays a critical role in helping physicians and clinical leadership makes informed decisions relative to the delivery of good patient care, patient safety, and clinical outcomes. Prior to Millennium data analytics was a challenge due to the multiple clinical databases that had to be mined and aggregated. Being on one platform now gives us the ability to be more efficient and the data we produce is much more reliable.

OHIT: What is one piece of technology do you expect to really take off in the healthcare space within the next five years? Why?

Ron McKinnon: From an operational perspective, Ellis Medicine deployed Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to streamline enterprise operations and reduce costs in 2018. While this is not a new technology it has proven to be a very valuable tool for us and bears the potential for larger deployment across healthcare. Within one year, we have automated over 60 processes ranging from complex data extraction from multiple sources to logging into financial systems and posting charges and performing journal entries.

From a patient’s perspective, in the near future, we will look to integrate directly with FHIR-based apps on both iOS and Android platforms.

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