How digital care and wearables are bringing clinicians 'back to the bedside'

Granville Morse III, MD, medical director at New Orleans-based Ochsner Health, joined Becker's to discuss the healthcare technology trends he is working to incorporate.

Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity. If you would like to contribute to our next question, please email Paige Haeffele at

Question: What healthcare trends are you most excited about?

Dr. Granville Morse III: So I know everyone's excited about AI, but I'm probably not as excited as everyone about that. I'm most excited about technological/digital advancements that will provide a benefit to the patient and to the clinician. At Ochsner, we've made significant strides and created different ways of access into our system, but it can be akin to a five-lane road coming into a one-lane road — and that's not as efficient on the backside. That starts at our registration at our medical assistants at our LPN or RN ends and goes all the way up to the physicians and advanced practice providers. If we can find ways to create better patient outcomes and more comfort for the patient and at the same time provide more efficiencies and comfort on the clinical side, I think that's what I'm most excited to see as we move forward.

Q: Is there anything that you're incorporating or in the process of incorporating at Ochsner to accomplish that?

GM: We have different projects in place, if you look from access standpoints, we launched our app called MyOchsner, which is run through Epic, and that's where the patients can come in and make their own appointments.They can get notices for screening mammograms, for instance, and they can make their own appointments that's convenient for them to make scheduling little bit better. We can crossover orders so the patient can do that with ease and not miss out on a mammogram. On the backside, we've made some concerted efforts in cleaning up our messaging to our clinicians, so that they're able to weed out some of the extraneous questions and get to the meat of what they need to do for their patients. Having that ease of back and forth is good. There has been the introduction of a paywall, which I don't think necessarily is a bad thing. There is a value to our education information that we can provide and I think that that should be valued and how you value it is probably the most important.

Q: By paywall, do you mean for patients sending messages or questions to their providers to get a response?

GM: Yes, and we're not the only system implementing it, but we're actually able to use that technology and create what's called an E-visit. So there's not a visual, it's just the back and forth chat from patient to provider. It's a simple visit that's been a very good success and help with decompressing are our front-line primary care group who has really taken the burden of these instant messaging systems.

One of our docs said it had gotten so ridiculous that she had a patient message her to give advice on what attachment she should use for her vegetable juicer. That's when you know it's kind of lost control and it's time to bring it back together. That's a true story, unfortunately.

Q: What other innovations are you interested in?

GM: Moving forward, I think wearables are a big advantage now. Probably the most common wearable now is the Apple Watch or the Garmin. These give us the ability to communicate back and forth with those patients just like monitoring for blood pressure and blood sugar for diabetics. And if you have good compliance and back and forth with a patient, studies show you'll have much better outcomes for your patients. I think these can really be a game changer. If you think about it, if you need to be monitored, you could be at home wearing them or other wearable devices — there's no wires. If you have to be admitted to the hospital, there's no wires. That frees up our techs and nurses to do more things that match the top of their license and so they don't have to come in and plug something in and press a button. This should lead to better care for the patients as well as more satisfaction in areas where we have so much turnover in the hospitals to get our techs and clinicians back to the bedside.

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