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Intermountain Health illuminates path to Digital Health Most Wired Level 10 status

Two-part series on how Intermountain Health's digital health journey serves as an example of modern healthcare delivery.
By admin
Apr 25, 2024, 12:33 PM

The healthcare landscape is undergoing a transformative shift, with technology playing a central role in shaping a future of connected, data-driven, and patient-centered care. Intermountain Health, the largest non-profit health system in the Rocky Mountain West, stands as a beacon, illuminating the path forward through its commitment to five key pillars: interoperability, AI-driven analytics, collaboration, patient engagement, and strategic vendor partnerships.

This is a two-part series powered by CHIME’s Digital Health Insights and sponsored by InterSystems.

Part one focuses on Intermountain’s leadership in digital health, including its efforts around interoperability and the use of data for advanced analytics and AI tools.

In part two, we highlight how Intermountain puts patients at the center and fosters collaboration with internal stakeholders and external partners to ensure optimal experiences and effective innovation.


Level 10 or bust

In CHIME’s 2023 Digital Health Most Wired survey, Intermountain Health achieved Level 10, the highest designation, marking the health system’s second consecutive year in the annual benchmarking survey’s top class.

Reaching this high level of digital health requires buy-in and action from the top of the organization, said Craig Richardville, Chief Digital and Information Officer at Intermountain. “It starts with our board and decisions from our CEO and executive leadership team. It is part of our DNA to be the best,” he explained. “With data-driven decisions, precise execution, measure and pivot as appropriate.”

The goal is to simplify by optimizing the cost, quality, and experience to have a positive impact on patients’ lives, he said. “We cater to a patient’s preferences and needs,” he noted, stressing the importance of going beyond a generic approach and instead personalizing health and care services.


Interoperability: Breaking down information silos

Imagine a patient seamlessly receiving care across different healthcare organizations (HCOs), with their medical history readily available at each touchpoint. This is the promise of interoperability, a crucial element for effective care coordination. Fragmented data systems often hinder communication, leading to potential misdiagnosis or delayed treatment.

Intermountain Health prioritizes interoperability, and their ongoing consolidation of EMR systems exemplifies this commitment.

“We have 11 EMRs, and we are going down to one,” Richardville promised, adding September 2025 is the target date circled on his calendar. “Our CEO has prioritized simplification, and this transition to one [EMR] supports that initiative for our caregivers, patients, members, and providers.”

This EMR unification will not only help simplify and streamline clinical workflows but will also coalesce data management. “On the data side and then the exchange side, my teams today are spread across multiple different EMRs,” said Nick Iannoni, Intermountain’s Vice President of Data Services.

Uniquely, Intermountain also has a payer arm, the non-profit Select Health plan, which needs to ensure members — who may not be Intermountain Health patients — have access to all in-network providers.

“The health plan is a good example of consuming data from multiple providers to appropriately manage care in a 360-degree view with input of data from multiple in-network providers,” Richardville said. “Bringing all of the data together in a safe and private way creates the appropriate holistic view and avoids comingling with the provider side, which keeps the data safe, secure, and private.”

Another impactful area of interoperability is FHIR, which has been around for 15 years, but it is now starting to really gain some momentum in terms of the standard being supported across multiple different vendors as well as different organizations that exchange data.

“FHIR adoption has really matured,” Iannoni reported. “We’re looking ways to organize data and insights around the standard both at rest and in preparation for exchange.”

A great opportunity to advance interoperability and improve information exchange across the healthcare landscape is the industry-wide adoption of standards like Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA), which includes a Recognized Coordinating Entity (RCE) and Qualified Health Information Networks (QHINs).

“There’s been good progress in some of the state and multi-state information exchanges to allow us to be able to share information across different providers that are running different EMRs,” Richardville noted. “And TEFCA is going to help us to connect to certain regions and allows a lot more consistency going across.”

AI and analytics: transforming data into actionable insights

The healthcare industry generates a vast amount of data, but its true value lies in unlocking its potential.

There is a ton of unstructured data due to how providers have historically interacted with patients and collected information from them in administrative and even service settings. Intermountain is using AI to help provide structure to this data.

“Then we can save it in either vector databases or within a FHIR server so that our teams can interact with it effectively,” Iannoni explained. “Breaking this data into concepts and meanings, then storing these in a more traditional manner using vector stores or FHIR servers will enable multiple use cases and provide insights not previously available.”

Like so many of its peers, Intermountain sees great potential in the use of AI throughout the hospital. Starting with administrative areas like contact centers, revenue cycle, and system services makes sense for many providers. Clinical use of this AI requires a more heightened level of caution and collaboration with partners and the industry.

One line in the sand for Richardville is a total AI takeover. “AI will not replace our caregivers, but providers and caregivers that do not use AI may be replaced.”

Instead, he predicted AI will be more of a superpowered assistant to clinicians and will require a human touch to validate and reduce the probability of bias and hallucinations. “It really is a fantastic tool to help providers and caregivers do their jobs better, faster, and cheaper.”

For instance, nurses are the backbone of patient care, and their ability to collect and analyze data is crucial for informed decision-making. Intermountain Health empowers nurses with the necessary training and tools to leverage AI and analytics.

“AI has the potential to revolutionize the nursing experience by automating tasks and providing real-time insights,” said Becky Fox, Chief Clinical Informatics Officer. By integrating AI seamlessly with electronic medical records (EMRs), Intermountain aims to enhance workflow efficiency and improve the overall nursing experience.

Technology + people = success

Improving the exchange of information and responsibly leveraging this standardized data for powerful tools and insights is a hallmark of advanced digital health. However, connecting the technology and data with the people it touches from development through implementation and usage is an important pathway for Intermountain. Successful digital health requires buy-in from executives, partners, IT staff, administrative and clinical users, and patients.

In part two, learn how Intermountain empowers users and patients and fosters collaboration both internally and externally.

About InterSystems

InterSystems is the leading provider of data technology for extremely critical data in healthcare. InterSystems brings disparate data into a single reality, creating a unified vision that enables informed decisions and powerful outcomes. Its cloud-first data platforms solve scalability, interoperability, and speed problems for large organizations around the globe.

InterSystems also develops and supports unique managed services for hospital EMRs, unified care records for communities and nations, and laboratory information management systems. InterSystems is committed to excellence through its award-winning, 24/7 support in more than 80 countries. Over 1 billion healthcare records are managed using InterSystems technology around the world.

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