CMS Administrator Seema Verma visits Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford

Seema Verma (center) with Sherri Sager, chief government and community relations officer, and Dennis Lund, MD, interim CEO and chief medical officer at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford

Seema Verma (center), Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, pictured with Packard Children’s Chief Government and Community Relations Officer Sherri Sager (left), and Interim Chief Executive Officer and Chief Medical Officer Dennis Lund, MD (right), discussed improving interoperability in health care with innovators from Stanford and Silicon Valley tech companies during a visit to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford on July 26, 2018.

There is no question that technology is becoming increasingly present in nearly every aspect of our lives. Within health care, leaders are leveraging technology and data integration to create a more patient-centered system that empowers both patients and providers, and advances medical care for the entire population.

That was a key message delivered by Seema Verma, the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), who spent time at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford on Thursday, July 26.

During her visit, Administrator Verma participated in a roundtable discussion with representatives from Silicon Valley-based startups and major tech companies, including Google, Facebook, and Apple, as well as health-technology innovators from Stanford Medicine, Stanford Health Care and Stanford Medicine Children’s Health. The discussion focused on identifying opportunities for innovation and digital health, as well as ways to improve interoperability in health care, which is defined as the exchange of information across multiple technology systems and applications.

“Under Administrator Verma’s leadership, CMS is driving innovation in an effort to put the patient at the center of care,” Dennis Lund, MD, Packard Children’s interim chief executive officer and chief medical officer, said as he kicked off the roundtable discussion.

In health care, interoperability is tied most closely to the electronic health record (EHR). According to Administrator Verma, optimizing this technology and increasing patients’ access to health information is a priority for CMS.

“It is not just about the patient having their record, but a tipping point to where we might go in health care and the types of innovation that may occur,” Administrator Verma said. “We now have the data to develop more evidence-based treatment options.”

During the roundtable discussion, Natalie Pageler, MD, chief medical information officer, discussed the Stanford Medicine Children’s Health clinical informatics program, which combines clinical care with information services by leveraging patient data gathered by EHRs to improve clinical decision making and patient outcomes.

Pageler spoke to the growing importance of clinical informatics in today’s health care environment. “Even if you have the data, can you process it? It has to be actionable. The use of applied clinical informatics interventions such as these are changing the way providers address real-world quality, patient safety and clinical care challenges.”

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Administrator Verma charged roundtable participants with illuminating how CMS can best support their companies’ efforts. Several consistent themes surfaced. Among the small medical technology startups and Silicon Valley’s largest tech giants alike, the importance of creating processes that streamline caregivers’ data entry to optimize the time they spend caring for patients is a priority. Equally important for the attendees was the need to improve patients’ access to their medical records, rooted in the idea that by giving patients access to their data, we empower them to take control of their health.

Another way innovators are working to put control in the hands of patients is by bringing care directly to them. Ed Kopetsky, chief information officer for Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, discussed the ways Stanford Medicine Children’s Health is beginning to tap into this.

“Technologies like telehealth visits and remote monitoring are especially important in pediatrics to minimize interruptions to school, family and extracurricular activities that are critical to children’s growth and development,” Kopetsky said. “As one of the highest acuity children’s hospitals in the country, the ability to extend our physicians’ expertise through telehealth has an especially large potential for patients who live in remote or underserved areas and need access to specialty care not offered close to home.”

While at Packard Children’s, Administrator Verma toured the new Main Building to learn about the immersive technologies that are transforming the experience of the hospital’s patients in their everyday care.

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Her first stop was the digital interactive wall in the hospital’s Story Corner, where kids can manipulate images just by moving their hands and bodies in front of the screen. This has tremendous benefits for immunocompromised patients who can’t touch common areas due to infection risk.

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Additionally, pediatric anesthesiologist Tom Caruso, MD, demonstrated some of the technologies being implemented at Packard Children’s to distract patients during minor procedures, blood draws, surgery prep, and other painful or stressful experiences in the hospital. These include supplying VR headsets in every patient unit, using augmented reality technology, and providing interactive video games that sync with anesthesia administration.

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Administrator Verma also visited a patient room, each of which is equipped with the hospital’s Real-Time Locating System (RTLS). When care team members enter a patient room, their badges are scanned by an RTLS sensor and their names, photos and job titles show up on the screen so families know who they are interacting with at all times.

“Today’s invigorating discussion with Administrator Verma and others from the health technology industry reinforces the positive ways in which we are integrating technology and prioritizing interoperability to improve patient outcomes,” Lund said.


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