Focus on: Empower Employees, Optimize Operations

Having a loved one in the hospital is often a stressful, exhausting experience. While a patient is receiving treatment, family members anxiously wait nearby, huddled in chairs or leaning against doorframes, coffee in hand, nerves fried, and sleep deprived. The page after page of paperwork, mountains of medical jargon, and traditional care provider-focused processes only make it more difficult for patients and their families to achieve the best healthcare outcomes.

Thankfully, Nicklaus Children’s Health System has found a better way—a patient-centric way.

With the goal of refocusing healthcare around the patient experience, Nicklaus Children’s Health System embarked on a digital transformation to strengthen connections between patients and healthcare providers. A recipient of the 2017 HIMSS Davies Enterprise Award, Nicklaus Children’s Health System (NCHS) is rapidly building on their reputation for delivering world-class treatment and patient care with the help of cutting-edge technology. The health system is home is the largest pediatric specialty center in the state of Florida, and the third largest and busiest pediatric facility in the country. In addition to having one of the lowest mortality rates in the country, NCHS houses nationally-recognized cardiology and neurology programs that draw pediatric patients from all over.

Ed Martinez, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer for the Nicklaus Children’s Health System, has been with NCHS for nine years. He has spent the last 30 years working in the IT industry, with most of his career devoted to healthcare technologies. Ed and his team are guiding NCHS toward a long-term transformation that reinforces their role as industry leaders in patient care and excellent service.

Strengthening connections between healthcare providers and patients

The healthcare industry is known for being reliant on consistency over innovation. Most physicians and healthcare employees enjoy maintaining the same tools and routines—a pattern that makes automating and transforming processes a challenge. In addition, most health systems and processes such as intake paperwork and billing are provider-based, traditionally focusing on convenience for the healthcare provider, rather than the patient. With NCHS’s digital transformation, their primary goal has been to strengthen the connection between patients and provider systems, ultimately keeping patients and their families educated, informed, and regularly experiencing the best possible health outcomes.

“Our goal was to make strengthening our patient connection part of our strategic plan,” Ed says. “We were good at it, but I think we got much better.”

NCHS also wanted to make the check-in and discharge processes at their busy clinics more efficient. Managing intake documents manually was overwhelming for the staff, and they needed an alternative to their redundant, confusing, and paperwork-heavy method. The health system’s chief focus has always been to enhance service and quality, even viewing the traditional pain management scale with ambitious drive. At NCHS, the staff strives for a pain-free score of 0 for all their patients—not even a 1 on their 1-5 scale—requiring NCHS to develop a forward-thinking, preventative approach to patient care. By leveraging innovative technology, NCHS experienced record cost savings, rapid growth in the health system’s bottom line, and a renewed commitment to patient-focused, value-based care.

“We wanted to make sure that a child who came through our center was treated the same regardless of which center they went to, and regardless of if we were doing this internationally or on a cruise ship or if we were somewhere else for that matter,” Ed explains.

Overhauling infrastructure and processes to provide patient-centric care

With NCHS’s digital transformation incorporated into the health system’s overall strategic plan, Ed and his team began the process by reconsidering nearly every facet of the organization, from infrastructure, user experiences, and software, to scheduling, registration lobby management, and post-care. Ed developed a change management strategy that focused on educating employees, providing consistent messaging, and reinforcing the solution’s positive patient outcomes. This tactic proved successful, allowing the initiative to move forward without facing resistance from NCHS staff. With the registration process alone, going paperless saves the health system between $4-$8 per patient per visit.

“We looked at everything from infrastructure, people, and services to technology and software. We looked at every component. It was a complete rewrite of everything we had in the organization. There were no patches made. We literally ripped out the old and brought in the new,” Ed says.

To successfully drive their digital transformation, NCHS partnered with HealthGrid, an organization offering a mobile patient engagement platform to deliver personalized experiences to hospital patients. HealthGrid enhances the provider-patient relationship by enabling meaningful engagement on the mobile devices already used by patients and their family members. The patient receives timely and relevant information regarding their care, significantly improving quality and satisfaction.

With HealthGrid implemented alongside Microsoft’s entire suite of technology, NCHS has been able to effectively transform processes, rather than simply automating them, restructuring the digital system to focus on the patient instead of providers. The flexibility and security of the HealthGrid solution and Microsoft technology enables NCHS to deliver holistic care to minimize risk, provide proactive treatment, and improve health outcomes.

“Not only are our patients happier and more satisfied, we’re keeping them included in their care process,” Ed Martinez said.

After piloting the HealthGrid solution for about 18 months, NCHS has seen monumental results, enabling providers to make sure care plans are easily accessible whenever and wherever they’re needed. According to a post care follow-up survey, 93.95% of respondents found HealthGrid’s digital communication channels to be a helpful resource. And of the roughly 7,630 individual patients contacted through HealthGrid, approximately 75% of them engaged with the message, with the health system receiving responses from 52.5% of patients.

The level of digital innovation combined with more efficient processes revolutionizes the possibilities of NCHS’s award-winning healthcare, leading to better health outcomes for patients and record cost savings for the health system. With HealthGrid, NCHS staff can use a patient’s medical data to understand specific health trends and gain time-sensitive insights into a patient’s status or condition. The technology’s machine learning capabilities enable NCHS staff to predict many emergencies 6-12 hours before they occur, allowing medical professionals to successfully deliver treatment before patients develop further complications.

The predictive care solution, which currently functions with an impressive 97% accuracy rate, has allowed NCHS to keep patient care at the heart of the health system’s digital transformation, improving health outcomes across the board and ensuring positive care experiences for the entire family unit. HealthGrid’s noteworthy medical benefits ultimately save on healthcare costs for patients, Nicklaus Children’s Health System, and the entire state of Florida.

“We’re able to plug in inpatient and outpatient data, put it into a machine learning algorithm, and then spit this data out on a real-time basis to look at what’s happening to the patient,” explained Ed Martinez.

Delivering unparalleled patient satisfaction with innovation in healthcare

Patient satisfaction has always been a top priority for Nicklaus Children’s Health System, but unlike other medical facilities, pediatric facilities have the added challenge of considering the entire family unit. At NCHS, employees developed the concept of “the happy family,” prioritizing a family-focused approach to care, engagement, and communication.

“We provide care for the patient and interact with the mom, the dad, the grandparents, the siblings—and they’re all tied to this process, which makes it a very complicated patient satisfaction challenge,” Ed explains. “You’re looking at it from an entire family perspective.”

The health system’s digital transformation allows NCHS employees to keep the entire extended family set easily informed on their patient’s progress, daily schedule, prescriptions, at-home care, and much more. The HealthGrid solution effectively streamlines the health system’s most common processes to increase overall satisfaction. For example, the system delivers doctor notes electronically, enabling parents and patients to easily print copies or display the note via a mobile device at school. Empowering parents to successfully manage at-home care supports a positive holistic care experience.


At NCHS, patient satisfaction is a priority even after the patient and their family leaves the hospital. The HealthGrid solution leverages the most effective digital communication channels to improve engagement across the board. With 75% of patients preferring appointment reminders, payment reminders, and surveys through text —in addition to a reportedly 209% higher response rate than with phone calls —HealthGrid’s digital capabilities are aligned with the most modern trends in patient-provider communication.

“If they’re being discharged from the hospital, we empower them with the information for their care,” says Ed. “When they go home, they have everything electronically available via an app or a text or a portal, so that they have all of the information available at all times.”

Leveraging digital innovation to transform the healthcare industry

With HealthGrid and Microsoft technology, NCHS leverages a digital solution that effortlessly meets the necessary security and compliance requirements. As a leader in the healthcare industry, NCHS was looking for a digital solution and a technology partner that could match their commitment to excellence. Ed trusted HealthGrid and Microsoft to design their healthcare technology products to protect patient confidentiality and build in security measures that would not limit deployment, mobility, or flexibility.

“We absolutely, without any hesitation, felt very comfortable that the security systems, the technology, and the encryption being put in place between HealthGrid and Microsoft were top notch,” Ed says.

The health system’s digital transformation is part of a much larger digital revolution taking shape within its walls. With a forward-thinking perspective on healthcare, NCHS has become an active innovator in the healthcare industry, developing homegrown and customer-built telemedicine systems. Ed and his team are currently developing products and software on their own, making their solutions commercially available to other medical facilities across the country. With the powerful mission of prioritizing world-class patient care, NCHS is revolutionizing how care teams deliver treatment to patients in need.

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