Live from Health Achieve: Start with the sixth step


This week I am privileged to attend Health Achieve in Ontario, celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Ontario Hospital Association. Renowned author, researcher and strategist, Dr. Michael Porter, delivered the keynote, Effective Healthcare Policy: Improve value for patients and reduce costs.

Dr. Porter’s vision to improve value encourages those of us in the healthcare industry to focus more on the health outcomes we’re achieving instead of the cost of those outcomes. I agree with all of the points Dr. Porter made in his six-step plan:

  1. We must reorganize care delivery around patient need
  2. We must measure value every day and we must measure what really matters – outcomes are the results that count for the patient
  3. We must align the payment model with value
  4. We must integrate healthcare delivery systems
  5. We must expand our geographical reach in our respective areas of excellence
  6. We must provide the caregivers with the right IT platform

That last point struck me the most. His call for healthcare providers to provide caregivers with an IT platform that brings information together to enable care and outcomes is also one of Canada’s five key priorities to increase the effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability of health care, as identified by participants of the 2012 Summit on Sustainable Health and Health Care.

But, this is a global concern. Disconnected systems make it almost impossible to pull all the pieces of the puzzle together. A nursing colleague of mine likened trying to find a patient’s information to looking through your kitchen junk drawer. All the while thinking that you know that what you need has to be in there somewhere.

For healthcare organizations around the world, pouring money into collecting more data only to put it into disconnected systems, without context, is like pouring water into sand. The data is good and it is important, but data needs context in order for it to become information. And, if value is our number one goal, how can we use that data to create a high-value organization? How do we translate it into what really matters to patients?

Starting with step six might be the way to go. After all, as Dr. Porter said, doctors and nurses are not to blame for the challenges in healthcare delivery. These clinicians work hard, very hard. But, they have to work within a system that they have been supplied. Give them a better system.

For more information on providing caregivers and staff with a more complete patient record, visit

Kate Barney

Kate Barney

Kate Barney, RN, is Hyland’s marketing portfolio manager for the healthcare industry.

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