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Just what the doctor ordered

By Robb Hare | June 15, 2012
Just what the doctor ordered
Dr. Chris O'Connor

It’s hard to beat Dr. Chris O’Connor’s elevator speech. "PatientOrderSets.com saves patients’ lives," says the company’s founder and CEO.

Launched in 2006, PatientOrderSets.com provides technology to 170 healthcare institutions and organizations across Canada, controlling 98% of the Canadian commercial ‘order sets’ market.

Order sets are "evidence-based, up-to-date checklists that enable the entire healthcare team to safely and reliably provide patients with the most up-to-date, effective treatments, every single time," explains Chris. They have been shown to save time, reduce costs and, most importantly, improve patient safety and quality of care. His company’s order set solution is the only one that’s been chosen for use in Canada for the past five years.

Chris recognizes that the market for healthcare technology is experiencing enormous growth and transformation. PatientOrderSets.com formed several new partnerships and nearly doubled the size of its network in the last year.

At the same time, healthcare technology is also becoming more complex. This creates challenges for healthcare institutions — and opportunities for companies like Chris’s. The rise of new, smarter mobile technology is one example that he sees as a critical part of healthcare workflow and a key driver of adoption of his company’s solution.

Today’s healthcare workers are constantly on the move between wards, wings and even hospitals. “Bringing the application and the knowledge to them wherever they are, in the form factor they need, whether that be a smartphone, an iPad or a desktop computer, is absolutely critical,” he says.

PatientOrderSets.com’s EntryPoint technology enables customers to work with order sets on workstations, laptops, tablets and other mobile devices. But organizations can just as easily use the company’s order sets with existing healthcare technology systems, or even in printed format. This technology-agnostic approach allows the company to tailor its solution to meet the needs of each healthcare organization.

What also sets PatientOrderSets.com apart is how its solution harnesses the power of professional collaboration. While the company offers 450 ready-made order sets, its customers have created and shared thousands more over the company’s network. And customers can also see and use all of the order sets and checklists in use at other hospitals and healthcare organizations, customizing them to suit local needs.

“We built our technology platform to make it easy for people to share and collaborate,” says Chris. “This turns our network into an enormous clinical resource and a great repository of innovation. It also saves clinicians time and prevents costly duplication of effort.”

The technology revolution affecting healthcare may be relieving some burdens, but it’s creating others. “I think one of the major challenges clinicians are facing is they’re drowning in a sea of data,” Chris says.

“We’ve got lots of data on outcomes. How long the patient was in hospital, how often they come back after discharge,” he adds. “But we need data that leads to knowledge and enables us to change our care delivery process. We need to structure our healthcare IT in such a way that it provides clinically meaningful data. We’ve built our solution to provide what we think is the essential part of that picture.”

Chris shares that Ontario’s Grey Bruce Health Network recently looked at the impact of using the company’s order sets for patients admitted for common conditions. They noted that patients admitted with an order set received more best-practice treatments in a standard, consistent fashion, spent one day less in hospital on average and came back 50% less often after discharge.

“Order more of what patients need, order it in a standardized way, and they spend less time in hospital and they come back less often,” says Chris. “That’s an excellent example of how using checklists can create capacity and save money at the same time.”

The company now plans to build on its Canadian success with international expansion and has already made inroads into the US, the Middle East, Europe, and Central and South America. In five years, Chris foresees those international markets making up 90% of the company’s business. His main challenge in achieving that? Awareness. “We’re the only collaborative technology available. It’s just getting the word out that there’s this opportunity to do it.”

The company’s go-to-market approach is a straightforward one: communicate the benefits of checklists to as many organizations and stakeholders in the system as they possibly can. “It’s such an intuitive, commonsense idea; use evidence-based checklists to care for patients. It’s clearly a superior approach,” says Chris. “As our network grows, the word continues to get out, and the value of our collaborative approach increases.”

He’s confident he knows the secret to persuading new healthcare organizations to sign on with PatientOrderSets.com. “You want to improve quality. You want to improve safety. That’s what healthcare is about. That’s what clinicians find engaging.”

All things considered, the prognosis for PatientOrderSets.com looks very strong.

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