The CIO of Phoenix Kids’s Hospital is an lively participant within the hospital’s efforts to enhance look after each sufferers and their households.
Innovation for pediatric care is important—and sophisticated. A few of the greatest new concepts for scientific care are popping out of the nation’s 46 free-standing kids’s hospitals, the place suppliers are tasked with treating a few of the smallest and most fragile sufferers and supporting their households.
“There are a variety of audiences to fulfill,” says David Higginson, govt vp and chief innovation officer at Phoenix Kids’s Hospital. “The passion and the acceptance of change,” he says, are energizing, as is “the influence you see on members of the family’ faces.”
A veteran of some 25 years in kids’s healthcare, Higginson joined Phoenix Kids’s in 2011 as its chief data officer, after stints because the chief data expertise officer for Arkansas Kids’s Hospital and CEO of Bluefish Methods, an modern healthcare software program firm that he had launched. As CIO (data), he helped Phoenix Kids’s combine its digital medical report platform with billing and ancillary scientific techniques and was named “CHIME Innovator of the Yr” in 2016 and AZ Prime Tech’s “CIO of the Yr” in 2017.
All that expertise stuff is enjoyable, however innovation actually will get the mind working. Higginson turned chief working officer in 2018, then CIO (innovation) in 2020. Below his management, Phoenix Kids’s has develop into one of many nation’s high kids’s hospitals.
Higginson’s management technique includes being within the trenches fairly than the workplace behind a desk. He desires to be part of the method.
David Higginson, govt vp and chief innovation officer of Phoenix Kids’s Hospital. Photograph courtesy Phoenix Kids’s Hospital.
“It isn’t sitting in a field on my own dreaming up what is going on to occur in 10 years, however being within the hospital,” he says. “You must be there and to participate.”
That is why Higginson says he spends a variety of time in ready rooms, the cafeteria, and out by the hospital’s entrance, unannounced and unobtrusive, watching how sufferers, guests, and caregivers work together. He is searching for clues on the way to make these interactions higher, and concepts that may assist form how care is delivered.
“We’re pushed by outcomes and want, however we’re additionally essentially making an attempt to deal with all of the sufferers now we have with restricted assets,” he says, hinting on the challenges dealing with healthcare after a pandemic and within the midst of financial turmoil. “We’re not going to go on the market and purchase the largest product, and we’re additionally not afraid to construct issues ourselves.”
A novel problem to kids’s hospitals is the viewers. Affected person-facing applied sciences like affected person portals “are extremely sophisticated for kids,” Higginson factors out, and their worth must be figured not just for youngsters however for the dad and mom and caregivers who use them to entry assets and coordinate care.
For instance, in 2014 Phoenix Kids’s determined to place an iPad in each room. The reasoning for this venture was that kids in a hospital are remoted from their buddies, and want a platform to attach, play video games, and entry different leisure. Higginson says the hospital needed to construct out a course of the place these iPads had the apps that kids would need and use, whereas additionally creating channels that their dad and mom would admire.
“It was actually a high quality of life subject,” he says, “however there was much more that we needed to take note of and construct for.”
That is how he is approaching an ongoing venture to equip each hospital room with Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant expertise, synchronized with a video platform like Zoom. Higginson says the platform must be configured for a number of events in order that suppliers can hyperlink in members of the family and specialists for conferences with the affected person and his/her household, in addition to interpreters. But it surely can be utilized by care groups to verify in on and talk with sufferers when wanted, and it may be utilized by sufferers and members of the family to entry assets.
Higginson can also be bullish on the usage of AI in scientific care, significantly in serving to clinicians establish well being considerations. A venture that sifted by way of some 20 years of knowledge to identify early indicators of malnutrition, he says, has helped establish, on common, eight sufferers every week whose signs had been so slight that they might have been missed.
“There’s a variety of potential there,” he says.
What he is not a giant believer in is wearables and distant affected person monitoring. They are not a very good match for kids, he says, who aren’t prone to put on one thing day-after-day or maintain to a sure schedule. These platforms aren’t sustainable for pediatric care, he says, usually due to connectivity points.
In reality, Higginson sees a future in healthcare innovation that focuses much less and fewer on the expertise and increasingly on the connections.
The expertise will get extra subtle, he says, in order that it stays within the background whereas giving care groups, sufferers, and households extra and higher alternatives to work together. By way of these platforms, care groups won’t solely be capable to enhance scientific care, they may also be capable to fine-tune their very own workloads and supply extra assist to households who quietly take care of a variety of duties and stress.
That is what makes kids’s hospitals so distinctive.
“We don’t deal with little adults—we deal with kids,” Higginson says. “They’ve completely different units of wants.” And so they have households, additionally with completely different units of wants. It is a complicated surroundings that wants the appropriate sort of clinician—and chief innovation officer—to work nicely.
Eric Wicklund is the Innovation and Know-how Editor for HealthLeaders.