Posted October 13, 2011
Conference highlights innovations in workforce development and new care models enabled by health IT
By Meredith Hughes and Ashley Clark
Last week BPC's Health Project traveled to Austin, Texas for a policy event in collaboration with the Seton Healthcare Family, the “Healthy Ideas Showcase: Changing the Way Health Care is Delivered.” This event brought together state, federal and local leaders to discuss health care innovation in the state of Texas.
We focused on progress in health professional workforce development and new models of care enabled by health information technology (IT).
[Watch the event videos here]
Health Project Co-Leaders and Former Senate Majority Leaders Tom Daschle and Bill Frist, and Seton Healthcare Family President and CEO Charles Barnett opened the event. Senator Daschle discussed the importance of working across the aisle to achieve bipartisan solutions to pressing policy challenges, and the need to align efforts and leverage investment in health IT to support innovation in health care delivery, payment and coverage. Senator Frist highlighted the integral role of the health care workforce in shaping our health care system’s future, and reminded the crowd that doctors do more than just care for their patients – they bring them hope. Senator Frist also previewed the workforce supply report BPC will release next week in collaboration with the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, which will help give state and local leaders the tools they need to crunch the numbers about workforce supply in a meaningful way. Mr. Barnett emphasized the importance of health care innovation in achieving the Seton Healthcare Family’s mission – to care for and improve the health of all those they serve, with special attention for the poor and vulnerable.
Health Innovation in Texas
BPC President Jason Grumet moderated a panel discussion with local political leaders. State Representatives Mark Strama and John Zerwas discussed the power of local innovation and the transformative potential of technology.
Dr. Zerwas shared his perspective as both a doctor with decades of experience and a politician. Implementing health IT will not be an easy task, he said, and may in fact lead to reduced efficiency in the short-term as health professionals struggle to acclimate to the new technology, but electronic health records (EHRs) will improve care by reducing duplication, flagging easily overlooked details, and offering clinical decision support. Rep. Strama explored the parallels between the use of IT in politics and elections, and even in education reform, and health information technology. Strama stated that technology is necessary to drive down costs and increase efficiency, but, as we move forward, all utilization of IT will face significant challenges in ensuring the privacy of personal information.
Innovations in Workforce Development
Dr. Kavita Patel, Texas native and co-chair of BPC’s Health Professional Workforce Initiative, moderated the second panel discussion. Dr. Ken Shine, Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs for the University of Texas System, explained the changing needs for medical education, and the shift to team-based care models, greater utilization of health IT and targeted higher education programs. Jon Hockenyos, President of TXP, offered an economist’s perspective – local communities will have to figure out ways to get the greatest return on limited funding to meet future demands for health professionals. Dr. Michael Stearns, President and CEO of e-MDs, shared the story of an innovative, Texas-based health IT training program that successfully placed 97% of graduates seeking jobs in relevant employment. Yvonne VanDyke, VP of Nursing Education, Practice, Research & CME and Administrator at the Clinical Education Center at Brackenridge, discussed the importance of sustaining our nursing workforce and encouraging nurses to practice to the full extent of their license.
Innovations in Health Care Delivery Enabled by Health IT
Janet Marchibroda, chair of BPC’s Health IT Initiative, led the third panel discussion on ability of health IT innovation to positively impact health care delivery. Stephen Palmer, State Health IT Coordinator and Director of the Texas Office of e-Health Coordination discussed EHRs in Texas, including the successful implementation of EHR incentive payments and the general trend of moving toward paying for value over volume. Diana Resnik, President and CEO of the Seton Shoal Creek Hospital and Community Care, explained the transformative impact of health information exchange on her network of health care providers; their health IT infrastructure is able to track patients through various interactions within the local health care system in real time, giving providers the information they need to increase care efficiency. Dr. Christopher Crow of Village Health Partners described his practice’s experience with care coordination; by bringing together many specialists to one area and effectively utilizing health IT, his practice achieved better accountability, transparency, and care quality. Chris Dammert, Director of Navigation Services at LIVESTRONG (of Lance Armstrong fame), shared a story of how LIVESTRONG’s interconnected suite of services for cancer patients in Austin helped connect one man to a clinical trial that extended his life.
Healthy Ideas Showcase
As part of Friday’s Healthy Ideas Showcase, BPC’s Health Project, in collaboration with Seton Healthcare Family and the Texas e-Health Alliance, hosted its first Health Innovation Exchange. Thirteen innovations were selected and featured at the event in Austin.
Innovations in health care delivery, enabled either by workforce development strategies or health IT, were evaluated according to the following criteria: how the innovation addresses an explicit, highly prevalent health care issue in either Texas or the U.S.; how the innovation improves the quality and/or safety of health care; how the innovation reduces health care costs; and how the innovation supports workforce models that promote coordination or drive efficiencies in care.
[Health Innovation Exchange Participants]
The following delivery system innovators presented at Friday’s event. Click here to learn more about of their innovations:
- Austin Community College
- Children’s Optimal Health
- CHRISTUS Health
- Lone Star Circle of Care
- North Texas Specialty Physicians
- Seton Healthcare Family
- St. David’s Foundation
- Texas State University
- The University of Texas at Austin
- University of Virginia, Center for Health Policy
- Via Hope Recovery Institute
Health Professional Workforce Initiative , Health Project, Health Innovation Initiative