Was reading this article published in a leading newspaper sometime back,
Meet The Internet's Best Productivity Tool: If This Then That https://t.co/746vhP8F8S via https://t.co/0oUrB2wIQO: WSJD #HITMC #HITsmIND— HealthcareIT Experts (@HCITExpert) June 2, 2016
Naturally, I tried thinking of usecases to apply the technology in a Healthcare setting.
IFTTT works with a series of simple recipes using channels.
IFTTT stands for IF this then that
Channels are "connected" apps, like Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Contacts, Twitter and many others supported by IFTTT. You can download IFTTT for android or iOS and start connecting channels to your account.
IFTTT allows you cook up your own recipes. Recipes are composed of this and that. Once you have connected the apps to your IFTTT account, you can start creating recipes.
"this" in the recipe stands for a Trigger Condition or criteria, much like the IF condition you would create in an excel sheet, or in code.
"that" is the action that would be performed when the Trigger condition is met. Based on this condition being TRUE, IFTTT will execute that Trigger Action.
Lets take an example now, assume you are attending a conference and you would like to keep a list of tweets that you liked, and you want to retweet these out later or incorporate these in a blog. Given this scenario, you could do the following steps in IFTTT
- Download the App on your phone and create an account
- In the IFTTT app enable the Twitter & Google Drive "channels" by connecting to your Twitter and Google Drive credentials
- Once you have connected the channels, lets head over to Create a recipe
- Click Create recipe and it will ask you for a Trigger Channel, select Twitter
- Next, select the Trigger Conditions from the list of possible options provided by IFTTT based on the channel selected
- For our usecase we will select "New Liked Tweet by you" as the Trigger Condition
- Next we want IFTTT to save the "Liked" tweet in an excel file, for that we will select the trigger Action channel as Google Drive
- And we will select the Trigger Action as "Add row to spreadsheet"
- IFTTT will keep adding all the tweets you liked to the spreadsheet that you have selected
OK, so we now have some understanding and agreement in terms how we are able to very simply, and with no coding, able to create a logic statement and get some work done. In fact you have just "Integrated" two apps and got them to "interoperate"
Lets now assume, IFTTT you could use in Healthcare use cases, What would you do?
What IFTTT offers is a set of features that allows for the end-user to create some of the rules based on their day-to-day circumstances. Lets say a nurse wanted the EHR system to Alert a doctor based on a certain specific parameter, but incorporating that logic would require a "code-change" to be done by the EHR vendor. The process is long-drawn to bring in such changes.
Instead IFTTT the EHR system can incorporate the ability for the nurse to create her own recipe by providing Channels corresponding to various modules in the EHR system, and also provide the end users Trigger Actions and Trigger Conditions (pre-defined by the EHR vendor).
Lets consider some of the usecases that can be enabled for an IFTTT type functionality in Healthcare
- appointment reminders for doctors based on urgency of care
- reminders to the nurse to change patient medication dosage based on doctors suggestion of lab results
- pharmacy requisitions based on quantity on hand value defined
- checking and validating medical actions for medical errors
- patient discharge process alerts to all departments
IFTTT app allows for the end user to create her own "recipes" and "share" these within the community. And considering every patient's treatment circumstances are different, clinical teams can setup trigger and action criteria that are active for a particular patient and can be continuously changed based on patient condition. Additionally, it also provides the end-user the ability to make enhancements to the system's in-built logic by enabling customisation at the user end and instantaneously.
Once the patient gets discharged the clinical staff can have the ability to save all the tasks related to similar disease "patients like" scenario, to be templated for future
IFTTT you could Connect Healthcare Devices
Thinking a bit ahead to the future, one could control certain medical devices based on trigger based activities. So imagine, the nurse comes along with the doctor for the ward rounds and she is able to adjust the IV flow based on a doctor's recommendations
IFTTT patients' could
Patients too can be allowed to use IFTTT-like functionality by allowing them to create a folder in her google drive that contains all her electronic records emailed to her or her doctor
Patients can also setup reminders for their appointments since their hospital app enables the IFTTT-like functionality.
Patients can be sent alert notifications on their wearables or phones, about daily Medication reminders using IoT-based devices that dispense their medications
The power of IFTTT is in the simplicity and custom trigger and action criteria it provides it's users
While writing the above article I recalled the time I was working in a Healthcare IT Product development company in Bangalore and we were looking to incorporate an Alerts & rules engine into our HIMS product. While defining the requirements for the solution, we had discussions with our end users in terms of how they would like the notifications from the system to be delivered. They all reported "Alert Fatigue" to be a factor in terms of how they went about using the system. They wanted to be able to control what alerts they saw and how they would like to view these alerts.
An IFTTT-esque functionality incorporated within EHR systems will go long way in helping the end-users "customise" the solution based on their current requirements. They would be able to create focussed alerts based on their daily work.
Afterall, the workflows in the hospital undergo a constant change and an EHR should be able to allow the end-users to incorporate customised workflow and rules
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