As CIO of HealthPartners, the country's largestconsumer-governed nonprofit healthcare organization, Alan Abramsonhas been at the forefront of some of the most innovative uses oftechnology in the healthcare industry.

|

For the past decade, Abramson has helped HealthPartners developan integrated electronic health records (EHR) system for physiciansand patients and established a collaborative exchange network thatallows providers and payors throughout Minnesota to share clinicaland administrative data in real time. In August, HealthPartnersbecame one of the first organizations in the country to integrateelectronic X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and CT scans,and radiology reports into patients' EHRs. The technology hashelped doctors at Regions Hospital, in St. Paul, Minn., and 25HealthPartners clinics reduce radiology report turnaround time fromtwo days to four hours.

|

“What's made this possible is the level of standardization thehealthcare industry has moved to and the cooperation betweenvendors not to feel threatened and believe they have to wall offtheir intellectual property,” Abramson contends. “You can getsubstantial advantage out of IT investments by looking at areaswhere there is no competitive advantage and collaborating withcompetitors to lower the cost for everybody.”

|

Based in Minneapolis, HealthPartners provides healthcare andinsurance coverage to members in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and NorthDakota. According to Abramson, HealthPartners spends about $90million a year on IT across the company and invests roughly $20million annually in new projects.

|

Abramson, who holds a doctorate degree from the University ofMinnesota, has spent most of his career working in various IT rolesin healthcare, both for the Minnesota government and for caredelivery and managed care organizations. He joined HealthPartnersin 2000 as CIO and senior vice president of informationservices.

|

For most of his tenure at HealthPartners, Abramson has worked onthe Minnesota Health Information Exchange (MNHIE), a decade-longeffort to exchange medical and claims-based data between multiplehealth plans and healthcare providers in the state. HealthPartnersis one of the exchange's founding members.

|

“The exchange brings care delivery to the next level by sharinginformation that otherwise might be available only in oneprovider's electronic medical records,” Abramson says.

|

Internally, Abramson and his IT team are focusing on providingadditional online services to members.

|

Plan members can view their claims information via a secureportal, search for physicians online, and schedule appointmentselectronically. HealthPartners also offers online healthassessments. With data from those assessments, the organization canoffer individualized services to help members better manage certainconditions, such as asthma or diabetes.

|

“Healthcare is moving dramatically toward individualization,”Abramson says. “We started out as a group health plan, working onlarge-scale populations, and now we've moved toward individualproduct development to meet certain market niches. We're treatingpatients in unique ways that are tailored to their needs. And thattakes more computing power.”

|

As Abramson plans future IT projects, he keeps HealthPartners'triple-aim approach in mind. As a way to manage costs, all projectsmust focus simultaneously on three issues: healthcareaffordability, health improvement, and a high-quality memberexperience.

|

“All our plans are vetted through steering committees, and theyuse these criteria to figure out which projects to fund, which toput on hold, or which not to do at all,” Abramson explains. “We'redoing the most we can with the resources we have available, and wetry to serve multiple needs with every project.”

|

Given the role technology has played in helping Minnesotadevelop a more collaborative environment among healthcareorganizations, Abramson believes IT also can play a part in thenational debate over healthcare reform.

|

“We know technology can be a major player in bringing about atransformation in healthcare, but there's no single technologicalsolution that's going to solve the problems people are looking at,”he says. “It's going to require technology and diligent work by alot of dedicated people to bring about a better healthcare systemfor the United States.”

|

Sharon Baker is a freelance business writer based inCharlotte, N.C.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free PropertyCasualty360 Digital Reader

  • All PropertyCasualty360.com news coverage, best practices, and in-depth analysis.
  • Educational webcasts, resources from industry leaders, and informative newsletters.
  • Other award-winning websites including BenefitsPRO.com and ThinkAdvisor.com.
NOT FOR REPRINT

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from www.copyright.com. All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.