3M Health Information Systems (3M HIS), one of the world’s largest providers of software solutions for the healthcare industry, exemplifies 3M Co.’s legendary culture of innovation. By combining the power of a cloud-based data ecosystem with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), 3M HIS is transforming physician workflows and laborious “back office” processes to help healthcare organizations streamline clinical documentation and billing, enhance security and compliance, and redesign the physician-patient experience.

The cloud served as the foundation for this transformation. Migrating its 3MTM 360 EncompassTM System clients to Amazon Web Services (AWS) is helping 3M HIS improve the capture, management, and analysis of patient information across the continuum of care. 3M 360 Encompass is a collection of applications that work together to help hospitals streamline processes, receive accurate reimbursement, promote compliance, and make data-informed decisions. The cloud-based version of the platform has helped 3M HIS and its clients address three primary challenges: a disjointed patient care journey; the byzantine processes that often inhibit timely and accurate billing, reimbursement, and other record-keeping; and the ongoing need to protect and properly use patient data.

Improving the patient care journey with data and the cloud

The broader objective of 3M HIS’s evolving cloud transformation strategy is to help caregivers improve patient outcomes and staff efficiencies by removing barriers to care and providing access to contextually relevant insights at the time of care, according to Detlef Koll, Vice President of Product Development with 3M HIS. Caregivers now work with consistent, reliable tools within 3M 360 Encompass that improve communication and reduce the types of errors and delays that cause patient anxiety and revenue cycle inefficiencies.

The journey a patient takes through the healthcare system can span years and touch multiple providers, from primary care to specialists, test labs, medical imaging, and pharmacies. During each step, multiple types of data are captured in the patient’s medical record, which serves as an ongoing “narrative” of the patient’s clinical condition and the care delivered. Physician notes from visits and procedures, test results, and prescriptions are captured and added to the patient’s chart and reviewed by medical coding specialists, who work with tens of thousands of codes used by insurance companies to authorize billing and reimbursement.

A complete, compliant, structured, and timely clinical note created in the electronic health record (EHR) empowers many downstream users and is essential for delivering collaborative care and driving appropriate reimbursement. Supporting physicians with cloud-based, speech-enabled documentation workflows, 3M HIS further creates time to care by delivering proactive, patient-specific, and in-workflow clinical insights as the note is being created.

The goal of this automated computer-assisted physician documentation (CAPD) technology is to reduce the cognitive overload on physicians regarding coding requirements while closing gaps in patient care and clinical documentation. Without CAPD closing that loop in real time, errors or ambiguities in the clinical note lead to what Koll describes as an “asynchronous” process, requiring physicians to review and correct the note on a patient seen days earlier, thus taking the physician’s time away from patient care and causing delays in the revenue cycle.

To address the issue, 3M HIS needed a way to semantically integrate information from multiple data sources based on the needs of various use cases, so it deployed AWS data management tools and services, including Amazon RDS, Amazon Redshift, and Amazon Athena, for what Koll calls “opportunistic aggregation of information.” For example, for billing coding, the platform extracts only the relevant billable elements such as an office visit for which a claim will be submitted. This type of flexible, cloud-based data management allows 3M HIS to aggregate different data sets for different purposes, ensuring both data integrity and faster processing. “This is a dynamic view on data that evolves over time,” said Koll.

Improving workflows through intelligent, automated processes

The process for gathering data about a patient’s care, then extracting the billable elements to submit to an insurance company for reimbursement, has long been handled by professional coders who can accurately tag each medical procedure with the correct code out of tens of thousands of possibilities. Errors in that process can lead to rejected claims and additional time required by caregivers to correct any gaps or inconsistencies in clinical documentation, which in turn delays cash flows across the complex network of physicians, hospitals, labs, pharmacies, suppliers, and insurers. 

3M HIS’s cloud transformation strategy addressed this challenge by giving clients access to a new suite of data management and AI/ML tools that deliver levels of processing power, functionality, and scale unthinkable in the former on-premises model.  

“If you had to build some of the capabilities yourself, you would probably never get there,”
said Michael Dolezal, Vice President of 3M  Digital Science Community.  With AWS tools such as Amazon QuickSight and Amazon SageMaker, 3M HIS’s clients can “get there” today: “Now our clients not only have a cloud-based instance for their data, but they gain access to tools they never had before and get the ability to do things they otherwise wouldn’t,” Dolezal said. By bringing 3M 360 Encompass to the AWS Cloud, 3M HIS has been able to scale natural language processing and automation capabilities and leverage tools such as Amazon Textract to improve data input and processing to more efficiently organize a patient’s chart.

Automatic speech recognition to capture the clinical narrative at the point of care, along with AWS AI/ML services, helps 3M HIS aggregate, structure, and contextualize data to enable the development of task-specific workflow applications. For instance, to mitigate the administrative burden on physicians, real-time dictation and transcription workflows can be enhanced with automated, closed-loop CAPD, whereby a physician dictating an admit note can be “nudged” that a certain condition is not fully specified in the note and can fix the gap in real time.

Taking frontline physician-assistive solutions to the next level, embedded virtual assistant technology can automate everyday tasks like placing orders for medications and tests. Innovating incrementally toward smarter and more automated workstreams, the 3M HIS ambient clinical documentation solution makes documentation in the EHR a byproduct of the natural patient-physician conversation and not a separate, onerous task for the doctor. This frees the physician to focus completely on the patient during the visit, thereby transforming the experience of healthcare for all stakeholders.

“We want to reduce the inefficient steps in the old model by unifying and information-enabling workflows so that documentation of the procedure and the coding of that procedure are no longer separate work steps,” said Koll. “It has the potential to save hours of time per day for a doctor.”  

Enhancing the security of patient data

The security and governance of patient data is non-negotiable in healthcare, an industry subject to the most stringent data privacy regulations. Administrators are obligated to make sure patient data is consistently used only for its intended purpose, is processed only by the application it was collected for, and stored and retained according to the specific national regulations involved. The cloud gives 3M HIS more confidence that the data passing through its platform remains secure throughout its journey.

“Using a cloud-based solution means you can apply the same security practices and protocol monitoring across all of your data in a very consistent way,” said Dolezal. The platform ensures a shared responsibility for security across 3M HIS, its clients, and AWS.  

Securing patient data in an on-premises health information system puts the onus to protect that information on the client’s infosec team, with risks compounded by each client’s unique IT infrastructure and internal data access policies. Security by design is one of the underlying operating principles for AWS. With a single set of code to monitor, maintain, and patch, 3M HIS is able to keep its platform current, quickly respond to new threats, and vigorously protect patient data centrally, with more certainty that its clients are protected as well.

4 best practices for data-driven transformation

Dolezal and Koll advise anyone considering moving large sets of data to the cloud to follow some fundamental precepts in designing a new solution:

Start with the client and work backward to a solution:  Be clear on the problem you want to solve and the outcomes you want to deliver to the caregiver and patient and work backward from there to identify the right technology tools and services to help achieve those goals.Don’t over-engineer the solution: Many IT organizations are moving away from traditional point solutions for collecting, storing, and analyzing patient information. To reduce complexity, enhance security, and improve flexibility, consider an end-to-end solution that is easier to deploy and update than traditional on-premises solutions, and lets organizations add new functionality incrementally.Bake in security from the start: In highly regulated industries, such as healthcare and financial services, security regulations demand high levels of security and personal privacy protection. These capabilities must be built in as foundational components of any system used to collect, manage, and analyze that data.Don’t constrain native data: Create a data management strategy that accommodates all types of data and isn’t confined to a specific set of use cases today. With both structured and unstructured data flowing into the system, the future ability to analyze the past means having data schema that doesn’t need to be re-architected.

In an intense environment with a relentless focus on cost reduction and improved clinical outcomes in conjunction with greater patient and physician well-being, 3M HIS helps clients efficiently capture and access patient data, gain meaningful insights from all the data, and drive high-value action to meet complex goals.

Learn more about ways to put your data to work on the most scalable, trusted, and secure cloud.

Cloud Computing, Healthcare Industry

The CIO has a real ability to achieve a competitive advantage for its business through data. This is the underlying purpose of the digital transformation exercises that have been so significant to IT in recent years. For the CIO to be successful with this, there needs to be a comprehensive strategy that extends far beyond simply deploying new technologies. Many CIOs are now working with an IT environment that can deliver a modern data strategy but are struggling to unlock the full potential.

The first step for CIOs is to break down internal barriers and address the problems caused by data siloed in legacy environments. As we saw in the previous article (How The CIO Can Become The CMO’s Best Ally In The Use Of Data), this ultimately comes down to the CIO’s ability to achieve stakeholder alignment across the executive team.

As Warren Jenson, LiveRamp President, said, failing to do this first can be counter-intuitive to the company’s data goals. “Alignment between the company’s mission and goals to each area of data collection, monetization, and collaboration creates a clear road map for interlocking data and business strategies, eliminating the possibility of missing new revenue-generating opportunities.”

The four steps to data advantage

A recent report from LiveRamp outlines the four steps that can bring a company to data maturity.

1) Match the tech strategy to the business strategy. “Disorganized data and disjointed digital tools often cause decision fatigue that can further disconnect business goals from tech and data strategies,” Jenson said. Organisations that can properly align their data environments stand to gain a significant competitive advantage.

Stephan Zimmerman, a Senior Partner at McKinsey & Company, confirms this sentiment in the LiveRamp report. “Companies should have a consistent data blueprint linking use cases to create business value and identify early wins to help build momentum for the organisation.” This is important, since the executive buy-in the CIO has earned needs to deliver quickly in order to encourage further investment for even higher value, but longer-term, projects.

2) Invest in an identity solution. Identity enables enterprises to unify and consolidate their customer view, which is an ongoing challenge for most businesses today. “Identity awards your consumers with more personalisation, better experiences across channels, and helps prevent an unhelpful or repetitive ad experience,” Jenson said. “For internal stakeholders, identity strengthens customer intelligence, improves ROI and generates new revenue streams across sales, marketing, IT and other departments, among many other benefits.”

In short, an identity solution is critical to being able to properly analyse and leverage customer data. Here, LiveRamp uses the retail vertical as a use case: “E-commerce often exists entirely separate from data generated by in-store operations. Imagine what insights merchandisers could glean if they were able to analyse transactions and other pertinent data across the full customer journey?”

An identity solution that is defined as “people-based” enables intracompany and intercompany data collaboration while allowing the CIO to maintain tight control over these assets.

3) Collaborate with partners. With the proper controls in place, the CIO can start to bring their organisation’s data together with second- and third-party data to generate far deeper and more powerful insights. A good example of this is media companies, which have deep analytics into their audiences and can segment according to the needs of their partners. In collaboration with the CMO, the CIO can bring their company’s own data in connection to a media partner for better targeting and measurement.

“Publishing and the TV industries have rich and valuable data sets. Thanks to the rise in granular privacy controls that mitigate risk of unauthorized data access or use, both are growing areas where meaningful data partnerships are finally possible,” Jenson noted.

4) Use data to build new revenue streams. By step four the CIO is delivering meaningful new revenue streams to their business, which can then be reinvested into other initiatives. The retail industry is a prime example. By leveraging its wealth of first-party data assets to set up a retail media network, Amazon was able to generate $31.1 billion in ads, and Walmart $2.1 billion for its own.

The LiveRamp report also shares the experience of Boots, which went from 7 percent of media being booked using first-party data, to over 40 percent using data collaboration to unlock customer insights. “The opportunity has to be that you are there in that moment of customer need. Having that passion for the customer, backed with the data that says, if we know our customers better and we understand their lives and the role we play in them, and we are looking out for those key moments and using the best technology, then that’s how we’re going to win.”

Data is undoubtedly a major point of investment for organisations. A recent McKinsey report noted that in a company that has $5 billion in operating costs, third-party data sourcing, architecture, governance and consumption will cost $250 million –  2 percent of the cost in itself. When managed well, and supported by the right tools, this becomes a competitive advantage and investment into further growth for the business.

For more information about getting started with your data collaboration strategy, click here.

Data Center Management

As organizations brace for challenging economic conditions, they will need to be strategic and flexible on where they spend their resources to maintain business resilience. Proactive intelligence and automation tools will be essential as organizations enter “survival mode,” focusing on sustaining growth and efficiency. More importantly, organizations should ensure that even with a limited workforce and tightened budgets, the value and services they deliver to customers aren’t impacted.

However, monitoring and maintaining the myriad of infrastructure and application platforms that support business services is difficult when only using traditional methods. Investing in a solution that automatically and securely collects, aggregates, and analyzes data can enable teams with proactive intelligence to help organizations achieve quick time to value and be more productive.

With proactive intelligence, businesses can get ahead of potential issues and reduce both downtime and time to resolution so teams can focus on key priorities that maintain critical operations. This has a critical impact on businesses: one hour of IT downtime can often exceed one million to over five million dollars for mid-size and enterprise companies according to ITIC’s 2021 Hourly Cost of Downtime Survey. In addition, strategic investments in automation can help teams proactively identify and prevent problems while increasing security, reliability, and productivity. Rather than spending time firefighting, teams can focus on tasks that bring value to the business.

Automated Issue Avoidance

Between the move to the cloud, remote work, and the accelerated adoption of new technologies – IT complexity continues to grow with workforce attention already spread thin. Solutions that enable proactive intelligence services can help reduce pressure on IT teams by helping identify the problematic issues that cause downtime. Through AI/ML, more quickly through automated collection and analysis of product usage data. These capabilities provide a more effective mechanism for identifying potential problems, guiding how to remediate, and ultimately avoiding challenging service requests.

A large part of the support process today is dedicated to identifying the problem and determining its underlying cause. Without proactive support tools, companies are leaving value on the table. Expecting the unexpected in your IT environment means your business is solving problems that are broken – not just symptoms of problems – and avoiding issues before they occur.

Automate Common Workflows with APIs

APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) can be a powerful tool in automating common support workflows. APIs are a highly technical yet important aspect of a business’s underlying IT infrastructure – they are integral to bridging systems and enabling seamless transfer of information and connectivity. APIs enable different systems, applications, and platforms to connect and share data with one another and perform varied types of functions. Without APIs, enterprise tools and their benefits could become siloed – resulting in a reduced bottom line.

As organizations scale their environments, APIs are key to improving the developer experience as they facilitate collaboration and reusability. A better developer experience means better DevSecOps productivity which translates into immediate business value. Creating a software development culture that optimizes the developer experience allows teams to invest less time in internal processes and more time in creating something valuable for their customers. By automating common tasks and eliminating manual intervention, APIs can help organizations foster better developer productivity while significantly reducing costs.

Improved Productivity

The process of identifying a problem, determining its root cause, and troubleshooting can be time-consuming, and requiring the customer administrator to communicate and contextualize information for every support request logged further adds to this time. Proactive intelligence capabilities can help arm customers with holistic visibility into their environment fostering a faster, smarter, and easier way to maintain a healthy and productive environment. Intelligence tools like VMware Skyline can help to empower teams with the insights to solve issues on their own, and enable those organizations to move from reactive, fire-fighting mode to a proactive, predictive, and prescriptive posture.

When enterprises have tools that empower proactive responses and automate issue resolution, teams can increase productivity and dedicate more time to other business priorities. In addition, by improving overall security posture and environmental health, businesses can realize performance improvements to translate to greater operational efficiencies.

Succeeding in today’s business environment requires innovative approaches that lead to greater business operational agility. Break/Fix support is not enough anymore to monitor and support the extensive infrastructures enterprises have today that can span on-premises, remote sites, and the cloud.

Proactive intelligence and machine learning tools allow organizations to embrace an automated approach for troubleshooting, pinpointing root/cause analysis, guiding remediation and when needed an improved support experience that translates to more productivity for teams and better visibility into systems.

To learn more, visit us here.

Build Automation, IT Leadership

The consumer has spoken. Forrester Research asked 5,000 of them, “What created the biggest pain when you contacted a business for customer service?” They answered lack and consistency of agent knowledge, followed by the difficulty of finding relevant answers on company websites. So, what is driving this dissatisfaction?