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Creating an IT System for a "Vertically Integrated" Healthcare System: Thoughts From Marion Jenkins of 3t Technologies

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In late October, QSE Technologies in Englewood, Colo., announced it will join 3t Systems, a complete IT services company based in Greenwood Village. The two companies, though different, bring essential services to the integrated organization: QSE Technologies specializes in IT systems for small to mid-sized organizations, while 3t is more focused on the acute-care market.

According to Marion Jenkins, executive vice president of 3t Systems and former CEO of QSE, the combined company will be particularly strong as health systems move toward "vertical integration," a model that requires more complex IT solutions. Several factors are driving this change, including the migration to EMR to comply with "meaningful use" incentive programs, emerging delivery models such as accountable care organizations, and increasing demands from patients that healthcare information be accessible and electronic.

"The combination of the two companies is really an end-to-end IT solution for healthcare," Mr. Jenkins says. "With this combination, our expertise goes all the way from acute-care to ambulatory and everything in between."

He says QSE brought traction and domain expertise with ambulatory surgery centers, physician practices and clinics, and 3t introduced domain expertise in the acute-care setting. "Our CTO, who came on board a month before QSE joined up with 3t, is the former IT director for Seattle Children's, so we really understand technology from the user and provider side," he says.

Solving the silo problem
He says the integration of QSE by 3t Systems solves a problem that has plagued healthcare for years: The issue of operating in silos. In a traditional healthcare model, technology vendors target one specific kind of facility — either a physician practice, for example, or a hospital.

Under this model, Mr. Jenkins hopes that an entire healthcare system, made up of clinics, surgery centers, practices and acute-care facilities, would be able to use a single vendor and communicate through that technology.

Protecting data as devices multiply
He says the integration also fits with a trend he calls "BYOD" — "bring your own devices." This means that as physicians increasingly purchase smart phones and tablets for personal use, hospital IT departments must learn to merge these devices with the pre-technology already in the facility. This poses a problem for data protection and patient privacy.

"It's a big problem for IT departments because they're used to standards and protocols," Mr. Jenkins says. "At 3t, we have mobility solutions and "zero client" solutions where we can keep all the data protected, yet accessible to the authorized users."

For example, hospitals have historically struggled with keeping data secure as it moves from one patient to the next. "With a paper record, in the old days, you just tucked one folder under your shoulder and pulled out the other one," he says. "Now, many systems require you to log out and log back in, and it can take minutes for a provider to switch patients." He says the 3t technology should save up to 20 seconds on this process for every patient, which can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars per year for each provider.

HIPAA fines are also extremely costly, forcing hospitals to install the right protections upon implementation. "It's a function of taking sophisticated technology security and making it work in clinical workflow," Mr. Jenkins says.

Learn more about 3t Systems.

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