Why One Attendee Is Traveling From the U.S. Virgin Islands to the 2019 Healthcare Analytics Summit
When Tina Comissiong first heard about the Healthcare Analytics Summit™ (HAS®), her mind began turning with all the possible lessons and inspirations she could learn and then apply at the Schneider Regional Medical Center (SRMC) in its recovery and improvement journey. The health system, located in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, was severely damaged by two Category 5 hurricanes, Irma and Maria, in 2017, and both SRMC leadership and the community have been involved in recovery efforts ever since (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Damage to SRMC during Hurricane Irma.
Comissiong grew up in the U.S. Virgin Islands on St. Thomas, with both sides of her family rooted there for generations. She served as acting chief executive officer of the healthcare system during the two hurricanes and the following month of recovery. Currently, Comissiong is the legal counsel and chief compliance officer of the health system. In 2017, Comissiong was named to the 40 Under 40 Leaders in Healthcare by the Minority Quality Forum.
Rebuilding: An Opportunity for Improvement
SRMC consists of three facilities: the Roy L. Schneider Hospital, the only hospital for the St. Thomas and St. John District; the Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center, the only 24-hour urgent care facility on St. John; and the Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Institute, which is currently partially closed due to damage from the 2017 hurricanes. The organization is now in the process of rebuilding and redesigning the Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Institute and the health system at large.
While Comissiong says SRMC is almost back to its average daily numbers in the main hospital, it has a unique opportunity to redesign the health system to better serve the community as it rebuilds. A big part of the redesign will be to incorporate infrastructure that can support updated improvement-focused technologies.
One of SRMC’s most pressing challenges has been the inability to fund improvement efforts, including technology improvements, which can enhance the patient experience and healthcare delivery. Additionally, the health system has a payer mix that is 73 percent Medicare, Medicaid, and uninsured, resulting in diminished reimbursements to subsidize uncompensated and under-compensated care. SRMC is in the process of receiving governmental funds to repair its facilities; Comissiong and members of the SRMC team want to build back in the best way possible, using the funds to make smart investments in technology to improve the system. “This funding provides unique and exciting opportunities to make improvements and transform our organization and the territory’s healthcare delivery system—especially with regards to IT, technology, and the collection and use of data,” says Comissiong.
The Healthcare Analytics Summit: Capitalizing on Opportunity
Comissiong’s interest in investing in smart IT led her to search for conferences specifically related to healthcare technology. She found the Healthcare Analytics Summit and was immediately interested in attending. She requested—and received—a scholarship to attend the 2019 summit. Some of the topics she’s most excited to learn about include incorporating lessons learned from other industries, involving patients in their own care using technology, identifying and improving inefficiencies in the system, and how to create more continuity in a disjointed and fractured healthcare system.
SRMC has mostly shifted from paper to electronic patient records and has set its sights on further improvement. Comissiong and Cameron Aust, the Chief Information Officer at SRMC, have been working with representatives from the National Health IT Collaborative for the Underserved on the development of a Health Information Exchange for the US Virgin Islands. Comissiong says the organization wants to work with its partners toward integration, creating robust sharing of information between providers within the territory, including independent physician offices, the Department of Health, and local schools, and dynamically using that data to provide better care.
“I look forward to attending the conference to learn from speakers in other industries who have been successful in incorporating new technologies, in collecting and using data, and in making advances in interacting with their consumers,” says Comissiong. While there is still major repair work ahead, Comissiong remains optimistic, “It’s a challenging time, but also an exciting time.”
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