The Brightest Minds Speak Up

Jeanette Polaschek RN is a Clinical Consultant for Orion Health North America, a global provider of healthcare information technology focused on population health management and interoperability. Jeanette began her career as a pediatric clinical care nurse at Boston Children’s Hospital where she was a flight nurse and became fascinated by healthcare technology. Moving to California, she became the first nurse to graduate from Stanford University’s Medical Informatics Master’s Program. Jeanette served as Director of Informatics at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and Chief Information Officer at Downey Regional Medical Center. Since 2007, Jeanette has provided Orion Health clients with solution implementation and clinical engagement strategies. She’s a liaison with Orion Health technology developers, helping them understand the many variables in patient care. Jeanette is a member of the HIMSS Nursing Informatics Committee and the HIMSS Innovation Committee.

HIMSS: What are the most important new innovations in digital health?

Jeanette:  I have a very patient-centered worldview when it comes to innovation. To me, one of the most exciting trends has been our ability to integrate data from non-traditional sources into the patient record – and then apply analytics to look at that data in real time. This has had a huge impact on healthcare delivery to individuals and populations. For example, data pulled from insurance claims can build a comprehensive view of a patient’s medical journey. This data allows physicians to see patient care provided outside of their practice.

Another innovation has been the ability to gather data from patient-generated devices for detection of potential health issues before someone shows up in the emergency room – all by using patient data like weight and blood pressure. And now, companies can extract data about people from places like the Department of Motor Vehicles, utility companies, and banking to develop predictive models that can calculate an individual’s health risk. Looking at these social determinants of health can now assist in identifying high-risk patients – for example, social isolation and loneliness have been shown to be health risks in the elderly.

HIMSS:  What do you see as the most pressing needs on the healthcare horizon?

Jeanette:  We still have a long way to go in creating seamless interoperability between solutions. Interoperability is critical. We’ve made progress -- but the issue goes beyond the transmission of data. We need to spend more effort focused on the quality of the data. The Continuity of Care Document (CCD) gives a national standard for summaries of patient care after a patient leaves the hospital. But there’s often so much noise and redundancy in the records –it’s a prime example where quality of data needs to be improved.

HIMSS: How do you benefit from being on the HIMSS Innovation Committee?

Jeanette: I’m new to this committee but already I can tell, I’m really going to enjoy it! They have a broad influence across the HIMSS community. Every time I’m in one of the Innovation Committee meetings I learn something personally -- but then I also find opportunities to contribute and network. I like the multidisciplinary representation within the group.  It’s built around being innovative, so we incorporate more tools like social media to get the word out and bring people together.

HIMSS:  Anything else on your mind?

Jeanette:  Innovation in patient care isn’t always about promoting the best technology. It can be really simple. For example, a couple of years ago in Los Angeles, barbers were given information about hypertension and blood pressure monitoring devices were installed in some of their barbershops. Studies showed a significant drop in blood pressure among people who visited those shops and had their blood pressure taken as compared to those that didn’t. That’s innovative – taking simple tools, putting them out in the community, and making a difference right where it counts. That’s the kind of innovation I find fascinating.