Wolters Kluwer Health: health equity and telehealth

Greg Samios, President & CEO at Wolters Kluwer Health Clinical Effectiveness, explores the role of health equity and telehealth in post-pandemic healthcare

Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the USA every year - right behind heart disease and cancer.

“You’ve got coronary disease, cancer and then you've got medical errors, which variation of care is a contributor to,” explains Greg Samios, President & CEO Clinical Effectiveness for Wolters Kluwer Health. “So, if we can solve that variation of care problem, that will save a lot of lives.”

This is something which Wolters Kluwer Health wants to do. Headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts, it is part of the global information service company Wolters Kluwer. Its aim is to solve the problems related to the variations in healthcare and make sure that each patient benefits from the clinician having access to the clearest knowledge and evidence available about their health. 

Samios is the President & CEO at Wolters Kluwer Health Clinical Effectiveness. A graduate of University of Rochester and Duke University - The Fuqua School of Business, he is now based in Princeton, New Jersey. Samios joined Wolters Kluwer Health in 2014 as President & CEO of Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory US, where he was responsible for accelerating the transition to digital solutions and driving profitable growth across the portfolio. In 2019, he became President & CEO of Wolters Kluwer Health Learning, Research & Practice. Prior to joining Wolters Kluwer Health, Samios worked at Kaplan Health Programs, Excerpta Medica (a division of Reed Elsevier) and IT service Elsevier.

Making sure that clinicians have the right information at the right time is not a high-tech solution, says Samios. “We're not saying there isn’t a role for machine learning or AI in this - don't get me wrong. If that helps get more precise, accurate and higher quality delivery, do it. But it's the quality of the clinical information that helps guide the best decision.” 

One of Wolters Kluwer Health’s top products is the clinical decision support (CDS) tool, UpToDate, used by over 2m clinicians worldwide. CDS ensures that healthcare staff have access to patient-specific evidence-based clinical information and recommendations, presented at the point of care. 

Bringing the world’s healthcare specialists to your bedside

As well as ensuring its CDS tools give clinicians the most trustworthy and peer-reviewed clinical information, Wolters Kluwer Health also aims to integrate the information into the workflow.

“That data could be on your smartphone or laptop, it could be integrated with your electronic health record or a telehealth platform,” says Samios. “One of the best descriptions I have heard to describe UpToDate is ‘It's like having the world's best specialists at your bedside.’ When patients present their symptoms, you can quickly go to UpToDate and you have recommendations from the world's best specialists. That's what we do.” 

In today’s highly pressurised medical environment, CDS has another important benefit – workforce wellbeing and retention.

“Physicians are burned out,” says Samios. “By giving them the right information at the right time, we can help them be more effective and reduce their workload. They're not going back and calling for more tests or having to readmit, so it's another part of ensuring lower stress at work and giving staff better tools to do their job.”

Samios believes that this will help staff retention, which is taking a nosedive since the pandemic. According to Forbes, up to 47% of healthcare workers plan to leave their jobs by 2025. CDS could play an important role in reducing this. 

“We're solving a lot of these problems that really came out from, or were accentuated by, the pandemic,” he adds.

COVID-19 has focused attention on so many issues across healthcare – including the need to boost health equity among underserved communities. 

Regarding health equity, Samios has a clear definition. “It's about making sure every patient gets the absolute best health care that they should get and that there are no disadvantaged communities - it’s a one sentence type of answer,” he explains. “There are many underserved communities which we know have not received that. What we're striving for is to reduce variation of care through the delivery of clinical decision support.”

Boosting health equity with CDS and telehealth 

Wolters Kluwer Health says wider access to telehealth, linked with high-quality CDS, could play an important role in reducing variation of care.

The tougher question is how is this achieved? How does a healthcare company make sure it is language accessible, for underserved communities and those with disabilities? 

“We make sure that our information is inclusive, but especially now that we see telehealth expanding access, we need to be in those places and make sure we're participating right now. Think about the way telehealth has evolved with the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of telehealth specialty providers grew rapidly because they needed to. Now, the quality is catching up.

“As the leading evidence-based provider of CDS technology, we have an opportunity to play an important role, helping to improve the quality of telehealth as we gain greater access. We can make sure that the right level of evidence is provided to these telehealth providers,” says Samios.

According to Wolters Kluwer Health, accessible telehealth is the solution which can ensure all patients receive the best and most inclusive care, regardless of their ethnicity, language or cultural background.

“We're working with a lot of telehealth players that are building access to make sure that we have that higher standard of care to those communities. This will enable all patients to receive the best healthcare for them.”

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