How Allscripts is driving the future of healthcare IT
At the heart of Allscripts Healthcare Solutions’ core mission lies a commitment to revolutionizing the way that digital healthcare is delivered, not just in Canada but beyond our borders as well.
That may sound like a very grandiose dream; but, since it was founded in 1986, the company has been building an infrastructure to empower health professionals to provide ‘proactive’ rather than ‘reactive’ care through an open, connected community of health.
Allscripts’ Sunrise™, an enterprise-wide digital healthcare platform, is widely used throughout Canada, the United States and around the globe as a premier provider of electronic health records, population health management and operational solutions. The company’s network connects 2,500 hospitals and 45,000 medical practices.
Allscripts Managing Director for Canada, Jennifer MacGregor, spoke to Business Review Canada about how Allscripts uses that network to help healthcare providers deliver superior care to every single citizen.
And the key distinction therein, is that MacGregor talks of ‘citizens’ rather than ‘patients’.
She explains: “We are focused on establishing an open and integrated solution across the care continuum and being able to provide the level of insight required to our providers, our clinicians, our citizens – we call them citizens for a reason, because we do not want our people to be ill – and our program administrators, whether it be jurisdiction, governmental or hospital administrators.
“We want to provide them with the right information so that they can make the best decisions about the way that they are deploying care from a program perspective. We also want to provide them with the knowledge base to know how they’re generating value out of their investments and how they’re ensuring that they’re providing the best level of service to their patient and population catchment areas across the continuum.
“It means we need to have active and dynamic care plans that will enable transition through care, post-acute and out into the community – and also establishing a network in the community so that we can provide the types of services and access to ensure people get proactive care, not getting ill to the point where they’re needing high-cost services.
“That way it’s well people, and not sick patients – that is very important. I would say one of the greatest assets we have is the passion that every Allscripts associate believes in the mission of ensuring that our providers and our clients are looking after well people and not sick patients. That is what permits us to do what we do every day.”
It’s all very well and good saying that – but how exactly does that work on a day-to-day basis?
MacGregor says: “Okay, let’s look at it in terms of someone who is being looked after in a jurisdiction with access to all of our solutions. Say, perhaps, that the individual may have been identified as potentially having a chronic disease and may not be following appropriate guidelines to take good care of themselves.
“What often happens in this situation, is that patients degrade in that situation to such an extent that they have to come into the emergency room needing immediate help. But with our solution, not only are we able to identify that patient on the premise of potential lab results or diagnoses in our system, but we can see early on that there is an individual in our citizen portal who is engaging with our care providers.
“All of these providers have one view of this patient’s health record and their condition and through our interaction with that patient, we can also evaluate that they may not be exercising or achieving the goals that we have agreed upon in the care plan, which is also viewable on the citizen portal, and that they may even be missing follow-up appointments.
“With our solutions, we can proactively contact somebody in the care team to reach out to that patient and intervene, preventing a potential decline and them having to come into the emergency room or the hospital.
“It changes the paradigm, from waiting to deal with the concerns and issues of the patient in a reactive way, to proactively identifying individuals who need earlier intervention to ensure a better health outcome.”
In order to do that, there has to be a strong infrastructure in place and the backbone of Allscripts offering is the Sunrise platform. MacGregor describes this as the company’s “flagship solution” and also revealed that it was invented here in Canada.
She adds: “Sunrise was actually developed in British Columbia and the first market it was used in was Canada. It came out of a history of previous development programs that go all the way back into the 1970s in British Columbia.
“It’s through that evolution and innovation coming out of British Columbia that we’ve been able to grow and provide a solution base which services hundreds of clients across 15 countries.
“We’re very proud of that Canadian heritage.”
One of the hospitals which uses the Sunrise platform is St Joseph’s Health Centre in Toronto, a teaching facility in the west of the city which treats more than 20,000 patients a year.
The hospital’s Deputy CIO Purvi Desai told us that Allscripts is one of their biggest IT vendors, and that the relationship remains strong due to the company’s flexibility and responsiveness.
She comments: “As we take on major initiatives in any clinical area, Allscripts is a key resource to help us understand the capabilities in the application and to provide us with options in terms of how we leverage functionality in the system.
“For my team, they help us with how to configure and manage the application for the end users. Then, once functionality is operational, they are our tier-two level of support. My team would do preliminary troubleshooting and if it was something that wasn’t with the realm of our understanding we would escalate over to Allscripts so that they could assist us with our troubleshooting.
“Sometimes they need a bit more information in terms of how it’s impacting our end users but we articulate the priority of the need, so if it’s something front-facing, impacting clinicians and patients, they certainly understand the important of providing a resolution as quickly as possible.
“As we’re exploring opportunities or new projects within our clinical programs we reach out to Allscripts to find out what solutions will be available to us and to help us strategize if we have a business problem in front of us – how do we best tackle it for our end users? There’s a constant dialogue in terms of planning, implementation and execution and then ongoing support and maintenance. Those are the key areas where we work together.”
But it’s not just Sunrise that is at the root of Allscripts’ success. The company has four key areas of focus which allow them to offer such a comprehensive infrastructure for health providers and patients to benefit from.
The third “pillar”, as MacGregor likes to refer to them, is Allscripts’ CareInMotion population health platform where data is aggregated from across various systems, harmonized and then served up to a clinicians within their workflow.
She says that’s “a significant differentiator” for clinicians, because they’re not going to have to go anywhere else to find the information, it comes to them.
CareInMotion is where the ‘citizen portal’ that MacGregor mentioned earlier is used, and the backbone of it is a platform called dbMotion, which is in use across the province of Manitoba and Fraser Health Authority (the second largest health region in Canada).
But the fourth area of focus is the one that sounds particularly exciting, the company’s precision medicine platform. MacGregor’s background is in genetics, so you can understand why she speaks with genuine excitement about the company’s work in this field.
She says: “Allscripts’ wholly owned subsidiary 2bPrecise is about being able to incorporate genomic information into clinical practice, so building the last mile from medical research to clinical practice at the point of care. We’re just at the forefront and it’s not just going to be Allscripts, as you can imagine.
“As we’re looking down the path of using sequencing information to guide treatment decisions and ensuring an understanding what it means to practicing clinicians. For example, from a pharmacogenetics perspective if a different drug will be more effective for a patient because of a biovariant we can identify that and provide guidance to the provider. We are at the precipice of being able to incorporate that information into clinical decisions whilst our clinicians are seeing patients, very exciting.”
The 2bPrecise platform became generally available earlier this year and the company have partnered with the National Institute of Health. It will be exciting to see the further strides that the company makes with the platform in the years to come, and it also serves to explain why MacGregor is just as excited about her work now, if not a great deal more so, than when she first joined Allscripts some 12 years ago.