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Campus Hosts Health IT Conference

Photo of Chris TimbersWhen Suburban Hospital’s ICU went from paper to electronic medical records, the hospital’s IT department created the FrankenCOW. This COW – or, Computer On Wheels – was essentially a glorified laptop with a battery on a cart that could be wheeled around. After a few months of use, Chris Timbers, Suburban Hospital VP & Chief Information Officer, said he found himself with a revolt on his hands. The nurses and doctors wanted to return to the paper records. They felt the records allowed them to easily see a large quantity of information all at once while the computer required toggling between multiple screens. Timbers fought off the return to paper, but didn’t find a solution until after the staff’s second attempt to return to paper. It was then that one of the ICU doctors asked Timbers (pictured left) about getting a FrankenCOW with a larger monitor. And when Timber’s staff couldn’t find one, they built one.

“And we haven’t heard a peep since,” he said. “But boy was that was one ugly COW,” he added, to the laughter of the more than 100 attendees of the latest Health IT Breakfast Forum.

Co-sponsored by the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, Montgomery County Department of Economic Development and the Tech Council of Maryland, the Health IT Breakfast Forum is a four-part series of conversations that have been held at the JHU Montgomery County Campus. The March 27 forum, which was the third in the series, was titled “Technology for Patient Care.”

Timbers was one of four panelists who addressed a standing-room-only crowd of representatives from large healthcare systems, smaller health clinics, businesses, and higher education.

The morning began with a brief overview by panel moderator Richard Singerman, Ph.D., a professional faculty member at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School and the Chief Innovation Officer and Cofounder of TrustNetMD. After setting the stage, Singerman let his panelists – David Brennan, Director of Telehealth Initiatives, MedStar Institute for Innovation; Frank Genova, MD, Associate Medical Director of Technology Integration, Kaiser Permanente; Susan Glover, Senior Vice President, Chief Quality & Integrity Officer, Adventist HealthCare; and Timbers – discuss what they saw as the biggest challenges in this sector.

Topics included using facilitating off-site doctor-patient interactions through technology, implementing enhancements that can alter workflow for groups, finding ways to ensure that doctors are getting the relevant data when they need it, and staying abreast of a constantly evolving field.

During the morning’s spirited Q&A session, all four panelists emphasized the importance of IT responding effectively to the doctor’s needs. They also touched on the importance of doctors’ input in making the healthcare IT space innovative.

“Innovation is going to come from those providing the healthcare because they’re the closest to touching the patient,” Glover said.

The morning concluded with a brief presentation from Michael O’Neil, the Founder and CEO of GetWellNetwork, a leading Interactive Patient Care provider for more than 10 years. Inspired by his own experience of feeling like an outsider during his treatment for Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, O’Neil created GetWellNetwork to help hospitals improve the patient engagement experience. GetWellNetwork offers a digital platform for patient engagement that utilizes televisions in the patient rooms and recently expanded its product offerings to include GetWell@Home, which can be accessed from home computers, mobile devices, and tablets.

Attendees seemed to enjoy the morning, many stopping to thank the program’s organizers for putting together such an informative and interesting session.

“In addition to the networking opportunities, the Health IT breakfast forum provided insights on how major health care institutions in the area are utilizing Health IT,” said Chris Dymek, EdD, Senior Research Associate, Center for Health Information Technology, Westat. “The panelists provided thoughtful insights around their implementation experiences. Learning about the GetWellNetwork and its unique use of a digital platform to engage patients was a particular highlight for me.”

But perhaps it was Brennan who best summed up the morning: “If this were easy, none of us would be in this room.”

Health IT Conference   Health IT Conference with Elaine

Read more about the event and see more pictures at the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce website.  

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