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Empowering beyond recovery to build intelligent, equitable health care

Estimated read time: 5 minutes

by Brent Shafer

Published on 10/15/2020

Thousands of health care and technology leaders from around the world gathered virtually this week for “Empowering Beyond” – Cerner Health Conference 2020. It was an inspiring, enlightening event in a year marked by a global pandemic, economic insecurity, social inequality and even natural disasters.

Even as we grapple with what will likely be the biggest health care crisis of our lifetimes, we remain committed to our mission: To relentlessly seek breakthrough innovation that will shape the health care of tomorrow. We are bonded together by our shared goal to deliver the best possible quality of care today and into the future.

For Cerner, that means using data-driven insights to improve health care and eliminate disparities in care to create a world where everyone thrives.

Accelerating clinical research

COVID-19 has underscored the need to accelerate the time it takes to bring new therapies to market. Researchers around the world are working to develop a safe and effective vaccine for the virus. Unfortunately, therapeutic development and adoption are slow, costly and incomplete: The time and cost to bring a new therapy to market – an average of 17 years and $2.5 billion – is unacceptable.

But Cerner has a disruptive solution that promises to revolutionize the process and get important treatments to patients faster.

By leveraging the 250 million patient records Cerner has amassed over 40 years, the Cerner Learning Health Network enables researchers to access a complimentary network of de-identified electronic health record (EHR) data to advance clinical research and life science-funded studies. In addition to cutting time and cost, the Learning Health Network℠ provides researchers with more valid, relevant data and enables smaller health systems to participate in clinical research for the first time.

Putting interoperability in action

With a more complete picture of the person, clinicians can make better care decisions. Enabled by the free flow of data through standards, network connections and national information exchanges, clinicians can access relevant patient information regardless of the source, and that data can be shared across the continuum of care providers.

Cerner has been a trusted steward of health information and a vocal leader in the pursuit of data interoperability for several decades. At CHC, we announced a new portfolio of interoperability tools: Cerner Unite, a group of solutions designed to take data exchange beyond connectivity to true usability; and Cerner Discover, a group of solutions designed to improve data quality, simplify data reconciliation and seamlessly integrate insights into clinician workflows on any health platform.

Battling the mental health crisis

COVID-19 has created a global crisis in behavioral health: More than 40% of U.S. adults in a recent report struggle with mental health or substance use because of the pandemic. One in four U.S. adults suffers from mental illness, and the average delay from symptom onset to treatment is 11 years.

Effective care requires that clinicians have the right data at their fingertips to provide a complete health assessment that includes a patient’s mental well-being. The Cerner Integrated Community Behavioral Health platform enables clinicians to more quickly identify and treat mental illness by unifying and tracking conditions across disparate systems. More than 30 Cerner partners in 14 states are migrating to this new resource in early 2021.

Addressing social determinants of health

In addition to its impact on mental health, COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on minority, underserved and geographically remote communities has magnified the importance of how food, housing, transportation and other factors impact care quality and outcomes. It’s estimated that 80% of factors impacting health care are non-clinical.

Cerner is working to improve health care by integrating these non-clinical social determinants into care products and processes.

  • Cerner launched the Social Determinants Innovation Collaborative two years ago. It’s a group of more than 50 health care organizations committed to working together to understand the social, economic and behavioral factors that impact patient health. 
  • In early 2021, we’ll launch a series of dashboards based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s social vulnerability index and de-identified social data collected at the point of care. The tool locates disparities, pinpoints needs and updates key performance indicators to track progress. Population, ZIP code and patient dashboards connect the dots and provide actionable insights. 
  • Cerner’s HealtheIntent® platform merges clinical and non-clinical data to help providers bridge gaps to deliver a more comprehensive view of health and social care.

Improving clinical outcomes, operational and financial viability

Documentation burden is an enormous drag on health care productivity. Doctors on average spend more than 16 minutes per patient in the EHR, longer than the 15 minutes allotted for most patient appointments. The New England Journal of Medicine recently reported that as many as 55% of care providers suffer from professional burnout, and documentation demands that take time and focus away from patients are a major contributor.

Cerner is working to cut time in the EHR with cloud-based tools that use artificial intelligence and machine learning to save clinicians’ time and improve point-of-care decision-making.

Cerner’s cognitive EHR enables more consistent patient care while reducing clinicians’ administrative burden. Voice commands help clinicians fill orders, navigate the chart and find information faster. Natural language processing “hears” clinician-patient conversations and automatically updates the chart through voice-to-text dictation.

For health systems, the cognitive EHR can help increase revenue and reduce claims denials by transcribing clinician notes and ensuring documentation is completely and properly coded. 

Tackling the opioid epidemic

The last two years, we’ve provided solutions designed to help fight the opioid epidemic. Unfortunately, these solutions are more important than ever. Opioid use disorder affects more than 16 million people worldwide, and there are more than 120,000 overdose deaths annually. Each day, 130 people die from this disease in the U.S. alone.

We’re making progress: Cerner’s opioid toolkit has been used 3,500 times – or more than 70 times per week in the past year. And in early 2021, we’ll release a new Opioid Use Disorder Predictor that enables providers to identify at-risk patients and intervene before addiction starts. The tool has potential to reach half-a-million at-risk patients and save nearly $600 million in emergency department visits. 

While the global pandemic has shaken health care, our shared journey of working together to respond to a crisis has made us stronger. As I attended CHC sessions and talked to clients this week, it was clear that our industry is more dedicated than ever to improving care quality and the experiences of patients and clinicians. 

Together we can use data and technology to recover, thrive and shape a brighter future where everyone thrives.

Because health care is too important to stay the same.

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