What’s the best way to provide quality patient care and reduce readmissions while lowering costs? Joseph Coyne, the President of Information Technology Services and Chief Information Officer at Continuum Health Alliance, LLC (“Continuum”), believes the answer is tapping into and interpreting data about patients and physicians through the use of emerging health care technologies. These technologies, like electronic medical records (“EMRs”), physician dashboards, and cloud computing allow for the aggregation and interpretation of data to monitor a patient’s health and a physician’s productivity, among many other uses. Mr. Coyne has implemented and supervised the use of such technology at Continuum, where the company is committed to population care management, a model emphasizing coordination of care for patients to reduce readmissions.
Mr. Coyne is no stranger to innovation in the health care field. By the time he joined Continuum in 2007, he had already created two health care entities. His first company, founded in the late 1980s, provided practice management systems to physicians and was eventually purchased by WebMD. HealthWeb Solutions, Mr. Coyne’s second company, specializes in providing cloud-based technology to physician groups, allowing such groups to manage their practices and electronic health records. At Continuum, which provides administrative services to physicians to help them manage the business of practicing medicine, Mr. Coyne directs the company’s technology services, operation, and applications. As part of this role, he oversees EMRs, physician dashboards, and cloud-computing for Continuum’s clients.
EMR technology has markedly changed the provision of health care, and it is the wave of the future. It permits physicians to store patient data electronically, which can later be accessed in planning and coordinating care. Physician dashboards are generally computer portals where physicians can quickly get a snapshot of their performance, like productivity information and clinical quality metrics. By aggregating this data and providing it in easily readable formats, dashboards allow physician practices to compare their numbers to other practices nationwide and use this information to develop goals and plans for individual physicians and the group as a whole. The last piece of the puzzle is cloud computing. By storing information in the “cloud”—off-site storage and computing services through the internet—physicians and other health care professionals are able to remotely access patient information to provide continuing care. At Continuum, this enables employees to check in with patients to make sure they are keeping to their treatment regimens and to schedule follow-up appointments.
“At Continuum, we provide physician groups with technology solutions to help them manage their practices both financially and clinically,” states Mr. Coyne, “by using products like EMR, physician dashboards, and cloud computing, we allow our physician-clients to lower the costs associated with providing care while still ensuring quality care for the ‘whole’ patient.” According to Mr. Coyne, this trend in health care is here to stay and physicians should implement technologies, not only for better practice management, but also for better health care.