Cloud-based Healthcare Data Means More Data From Every Point of Care

By Kindred Healthcare tags:
 From left to right: Rick Champman, EVP, EAO, and CIO, Kindred Healthcare, Kathy Markham, VP of Information Systems Planning & Field Services, Denny Ertel, VP of Clinical Systems Development, and Charles Wardrip, VP of Operations and Telecommunications. From left to right: Rick Champman, EVP, EAO, and CIO, Kindred Healthcare, Kathy Markham, VP of Information Systems Planning & Field Services, Denny Ertel, VP of Clinical Systems Development, and Charles Wardrip, VP of Operations and Telecommunications.

Before long, Kindred employees will be able to access patient information without being tied to a PC to get it. Mobile devices like iPads and iPhones are part of the company’s transition to “cloud-based” information systems meant to convey and access information quickly – and benefit patients.

Cloud-based means information will no longer be tied to individual computers and servers. It will free information from local sites because it can be stored in a data center anywhere in the world and be accessible to anyone, anywhere and anytime, if the person is authorized to see it.

The challenge will be protecting different types of sensitive information from hackers and public access that would violate HIPAA guidelines, said Richard Chapman, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative and Information Officer for Kindred. But there are teams working on that already. Guiding them is the knowledge that there are “very punitive” fines for violating the privacy guidelines, said Charles Wardrip, Vice President of Information Systems Operations.

By being cloud-based, the company will, in essence, cut the lines between each of the company’s 18,000 PCs in use now.

In talking about the benefits of mobile, Chapman, who was recently named one of Information Week’s Top 10 Healthcare IT Innovators for 2012,, said one challenge has been to get documentation for care orders. “Up to now it’s been mostly after the fact,” he said. Now an order can be entered into a mobile device and billing is triggered by the information that’s entered. “It lets us capture care as it’s being ordered,” Wardrip added.

Plans are also in the works to give Kindred employees their own Facebook-style social media site, accessible only to the Kindred family and built in the cloud on Microsoft's SharePoint 2013.

“The exciting news is that we’ll be able to connect our systems and share information,” said Kathy Markham, Vice President of Information Systems Planning and Field Services. The goal is a continuity of documentation in each clinical system to be used for exchanging patient data: from acute-care hospital through the continuum to transitional care and home health.

The Information Systems strategy is “good for business,” Chapman said. It will:

  • Enable the company’s business strategy
  • Optimize business performance and improve quality of care
  • Integrate large-scale acquisitions
  • Drive more timely business decisions
  • Promote employee and business-partner engagement
  • Continuously improve productivity with the help of technology

It’s not an easy project, Wardrip warned. “I try to never confuse being good with being easy. … People in the field will experience the brunt of the challenges.” Some of the integration work has already happened in select locations. “We’re trying to learn from each of our experiences,” he said.

“We want you to encourage people to use all these exciting new tools … to do what you do best with patients,” he said. “Because that’s what we’re all about.”

From left to right: Rick Champman, EVP, EAO, and CIO, Kindred Healthcare, Kathy Markham, VP of Information Systems Planning & Field Services, Denny Ertel, VP of Clinical Systems Development, and Charles Wardrip, VP of Operations and Telecommunications.