Three questions with Michael Bee: The future is ambient

June 6, 2022 / By Michael Bee, Kelli Christman

I sat down with 3M Health Information Systems Vice President Clinician Solutions Michael Bee to talk about ambient technology and what an autonomous future could look like.

Welcome in Inside Angle! Can you share a little bit about your background and current role at 3M HIS?

Thank you! I’ve been with 3M HIS for almost 23 years. I started out in sales operations and finance. For the last 12 years, I have been in an emerging business role and working to commercialize new products. I’m really proud of the work I did with the team to commercialize the 3M 360 Encompass System in 2010. I definitely consider that my baby!

In my current role, I lead our clinician solutions business. I’m responsible for business management, strategy and supporting the incredibly talented product ownership teams to realize our strategic objective to create time to care for our customers. A big part of my job is coordinating or orchestrating the different groups to ensure we deliver on our value propositions and commitments to our clients.

Ambient technology is all the buzz now. What is it and why are clinicians so excited about its possibility?

The key strategic mission of our clinician solutions business is to create time to care. We don’t want to just create time so they can see more patients, but we want to allow time for clinicians to care for themselves and their families. We do that by reducing the administrative burdens that exist as part of delivering care. Streamlining all of the clinical documentation efforts and data entry that happens as a result of a patient encounter is how we can make a difference.

A clinician’s day is focused on serial tasks: prepare to see a patient; see the patient; document the encounter. Our focus is on using technology to make that documentation and administrative capture a derivative of the visit automatically. For example, through ambient technology, ideally a physician would leave a patient encounter and things like medication, referrals, services provided and other relevant documentation has already been completed. And not just completed, but connected to and shared with other systems so that the time a clinician has to spend documenting it all is not only reduced, but the efficacy of the information is improved.

The question we ask ourselves daily is this: how can we help clinicians better document the care that was provided in a way that better represents that care? Because we all know that documentation is what providers are measured against, not the actual care. Ambient technology can enable this to happen. And in a way that requires less of a burden on our clinicians. In a way that allows them to spend more time with their families and less “pajama time” documenting at home late at night.

3M HIS sits at a unique intersection of revenue cycle management and clinician solutions. What are we doing from this combined perspective to combat burnout and streamline workflows?

I think our unique position in the market allows us to solve problems and challenges at the point of need. If you solve issues upstream and sprinkle in safety nets throughout the process, especially in the revenue cycle, you’re creating a much more efficient and effective system.

We’re creating tools that not only help physicians document more clearly and accurately on the front end, but we have tools for coders to automate more “typical” tasks so they can use their expertise for more complex cases.

In most current systems, a physician supplies documentation following a patient encounter. If that documentation is incomplete or inaccurate, the coder has to go back to the doctor two or three days later for clarification. The doctor then has to go back, refamiliarize themselves with that encounter and provide updated documentation.

This is an extremely inefficient system and creates more work for everyone. Ambient technology reduces that workload, creates more compliant documentation and automatically employs best practices as defined by the organization. It is much more than just automating documentation.

 Kelli Christman is senior marketing communications and strategic communications specialist at 3M Health Information Systems.

Michael Bee, vice president of clinician solutions at 3M Health Information Systems.