This Week Health
June 28, 2023

Utilizing Technology in Healthcare: Scripps Health's Forward-Thinking Approach

As we traverse through an age where technology is rapidly becoming an essential component of healthcare, various institutions are on a quest to harness digital solutions for improving patient experiences and outcomes. One of these institutions is Scripps Health, a healthcare system based in San Diego, California. Shane Thielman, the Chief Information Officer of Scripps Health, recently shared invaluable insights during a podcast interview with Bill Russell on This Week Health. Through this discussion, we gain a deeper understanding of how Scripps Health is methodically integrating technology into its day-to-day operations.

Empowering Patients with Bedside Technology

One of the remarkable strides taken by Scripps Health is the introduction of patient care technology at the bedside. Through this interactive platform, patients can access their medical records, which facilitates a better understanding of their health conditions, the treatments they are undergoing, and the medications they are on.

Shane Thielman reported that, "Right now, about 50% of the admitted patients are utilizing the bedside interactive patient care technology." This technology is not just a mere digital tool; it is an instrument for bridging the information gap between healthcare providers and patients. It propels patients to take an informed and active role in their healthcare journey. In essence, Scripps Health is using this technology as an avenue for enhanced patient engagement and empowerment.

Shane Thielman Scripps Health This Week in Health IT

Shane Thielman CIO of Scripps Health

Transforming Access to Primary Care with On-Demand Virtual Visits

For a long time, access to primary care has been a pain point in healthcare, with patients often experiencing long waiting times for routine appointments. Scripps Health has tackled this issue head-on by embracing on-demand virtual visits.

During the podcast, Thielman elaborated on this initiative: "We can create pools of providers that can pick up a patient between their other, scheduled appointments." He also mentioned the astounding response to this new service, saying, "I'll tell you the day we turned it on, the queue was full within the first 30 minutes." He further added, “The doctors love it because it keeps them productive between visits. It addresses when a provider has a no-show, they can jump in and pick up a patient in the queue.”

This initiative has been a resounding success and Scripps Health is now contemplating expanding this service beyond traditional clinic hours, potentially offering consultations after hours or on weekends.

Artificial Intelligence: Exploring New Horizons in Healthcare

Another area where Scripps Health is diligently exploring possibilities is the incorporation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in healthcare. Specifically, generative AI models like GPT are on the radar.

Thielman expressed his thoughts on the integration of AI in healthcare, acknowledging the challenges and ethical aspects that come into play. He stated, “The promise of generative AI chat, GPT, is something that I'm talking about with a lot of organizations right now.”

However, Scripps Health is not taking a plunge into AI without due diligence. Thielman shared, “We have some connections with Azure, GPT, and Codex and are doing some work in the background.” This points to a cautious and structured approach to AI integration, emphasizing the importance of transparency, oversight, safety, and ethical considerations.

Clinical Engagement as the Bedrock of Innovation

The successes Scripps Health has experienced in leveraging technology in healthcare didn't just happen by chance. According to Thielman, clinical engagement played a pivotal role, especially with on-demand visits. He said, “It starts first with clinical engagement. We have some great physician leaders in our organization. We've been talking about the possibility of doing these on-demand visits for some time for primary care.”

This emphasizes the significance of collaboration and having a shared vision amongst healthcare professionals within an institution. Such synergy ensures that the technology serves the users and not the other way around.

Looking Ahead

The journey of Scripps Health is a testament to the potential of technology when thoughtfully integrated into healthcare practices. With initiatives spanning bedside technology, on-demand virtual visits, and artificial intelligence, the overarching goal is to enhance patient-centered care. Thielman summarized the mission beautifully, saying, "We're dipping our toes and we have some connections with Azure, GPT, and Codex and are doing some work in the background."

The approach taken by Scripps Health serves as a guiding light for other healthcare systems to rethink how technology can play a pivotal role in healthcare. By pushing boundaries, experimenting, and carefully executing, Scripps Health has showcased that technology has the potential to significantly transform the healthcare landscape, ultimately improving patient care and outcomes.

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