Executives at OSF Healthcare, an 11-hospital integrated delivery system in Illinois, want the organization to more effectively capture patient perspectives that can help clinicians and staff better understand their patients and how they live.

To achieve that, OSF is turning to information technology with its purchase of a research platform from PatientWisdom, a vendor offering technology applications. At the same time, it’s using the platform to capture clinician perspectives as well.

The information gathering component of the research is sizable; it could take a year before OSF comprehensively uses the PatientWisdom platform, as the organization intends to conduct several surveys to collect data from patients and physicians to help inform development of the initiative.

Early in the program, the platform was briefly used to create a module to survey a particular community. Collection of patient perspectives data was piloted tested in July at the Streator Center for Health, a standalone emergency department in rural Illinois. “We chose to use an element focused on surveys and deployed in the Streator market to get the voice of the consumer to learn how to design our offerings,” says Kip McCoy, program manager.

For example, it is important for clinicians and staff to know that a patient goes by the name of Barb, not Barbara, and that Barbara has a goal to improve her health status enough to be able to play tennis again.

In addition to the hospitals, OSF operates 125 other clinical sites at which it can try new innovations to improve patient outcomes and OSF’s economics, says Stan Lynall, vice president of venture investments. But for now, the first task is for OSF to educate itself, and that means being able to capture personal information about patients and their healthcare journey, interests and challenges to better inform clinical teams. “The more we know about the individual, the better we can care for them,” he adds.

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When patients come to the hospital or a physician office, they are given the opportunity during registration to fill out a survey and share additional information about themselves. Physicians are then able to access a patient’s profile right before an appointment, Lynall explains. In particular, OSF wants to know what challenges a patient faces, such as needing medication but not being able to afford it, not having a baby sitter or not having transportation to get to an appointment.

The information resides in the Epic electronic health record system, and eventually also will be in the PatientWisdom platform to support data analytics. Over time, OSF will survey its clinicians to seek their input on what capabilities they want in the platform, what is important to them in their current environment and how they believe patient care delivery can be improved.

“What we know now is that more information communication with clinicians is important in care delivery, and the more we can enhance that, the better we can improve care delivery,” Lynall notes. “The tools can be customized for individual purposes.”

While OSF is currently focused on the effort to better understand patient and clinical perspectives, and to find ways to improve satisfaction while reducing costs, the organization plans to find additional strategic opportunities, McCoy says.

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