Executive Roundtable: What Frustrates Hospital CEOs, CIOs About Health IT?

Two hospital and health system CEOs and three CIOs share what frustrates them about health IT and what they are most excited about for the future of health IT.

 

Health IT is continually advancing and has started to play a prominent role in health systems and hospitals, no matter the size. However, even with the great strides taken in health IT as of late, the industry is still facing shortcomings in IT when compared to other industries.

That is just one of many frustrations facing hospital and health system CEOs and CIOs when it comes to health IT. Here, two hospital and health system CEOs and three CIOs open up about what frustrates them about health IT, what could make their jobs easier and what they are excited about when it comes to the future of health IT.

Question: What frustrates you most about health IT?

Arlyn Broekhius, Vice President and CIO of Sanford Health (Fargo, N.D., and Sioux Falls, S.D.): Healthcare IT has been in the catch-up mode after years of underinvesting. It is frustrating when we can't do everything our users are requesting. There are limited resources and we have to prioritize.

Marc Chasin, MD, System Vice President and CIO of St. Luke's Health System (Boise, Idaho): I don't feel that I get frustrated about health IT. If I do get frustrated about anything [it's] that there are so many good projects that we could be investigating but there is only so much time and resources available. We have to scrutinize each and every project from a strategic alignment perspective as well as a cost/benefit perspective.

Mark Newton, President and CEO of Swedish Covenant Hospital (Chicago): When does it end? How do you know when you've achieved it? I think the frustrating part is that all of these systems, how do you get them all to integrate — it's just very difficult to do that. All you have to do is read what healthcare.gov is experiencing, and [for hospitals] it seems more expensive and more complicated.

Shafiq Rab, MD, Vice President and CIO of Hackensack (N.J.) University Medical Center: There is no incentive for patients — who are the key to improve healthcare — to participate. We incentivized the hospitals and eligible providers. To complete the circle we have to include mental health and sub-acute institutions including rehab and nursing homes. The transition of care and meaningful use stage 2 is dependent on it.  

Chris Van Gorder, President and CEO of Scripps Health (San Diego): The expansion of information technology in healthcare has been frustratingly slow and lags behind many other industries. Contributing to that frustration has been a lack of interoperability between various electronic medical records systems and many of the other hospital and clinic applications that generate patient data. A lack of industry knowledge and the pressure from government deadlines to make big strides in a relatively short period of time complicates efforts to address these challenges.

Q: What would make your job as CIO easier?

Arlyn Broekhuis: We are implementing an integrated EHR. The more we can get vendors to provide patient-centered, integrated solutions, the better off everyone will be.

Dr. Marc Chasin: I have to say that I presently feel that I have the ideal job in a fantastic organization. I have executive peers that want me to succeed as well as the most engaged physician group that I could ask for. If I had to identify an area that would make my job easier would be to have my business partners engage IT early on in the development of the business strategy. Many times the strategy is developed and articulated but there often a misconception that the IT piece is a quick box to check when in actuality the development of technological capabilities is complex and requires careful planning prior to deploying a new service or business line.

Dr. Shafiq Rab: There are several things that could help to make my job easier, such as: targeted education for healthcare boards and CEOs about HIT; a universal connector or standardization on protocols; a secure network for communication between patient and providers or providers to providers; interoperability between the major EHR providers; true test sites that the ONC would collaborate and test out the requirements for MU2 and MU3; the development of hardware-based chipset-level security.

Q: For the CEOs, what role do you play in health IT at your organization?

Mark Newton: The CEO reports directly to me, and I play a role in deciding priority, overall strategy and overall funding for HIT.

Chris Van Gorder: As CEO, I have made achieving IT goals and meaningful use targets a top priority throughout our entire organization by dedicating the people and financial resources needed to ensure success.

Q: What are you most excited about for the future of health IT at your organization?

Aryln Broekhuis: I am excited about the possibilities in healthcare with new technologies like real-time location systems. There are many opportunities to use technology to continue improving patient care and at the same time be more efficient.

Dr. Marc Chasin: I am excited to be a part of the transformation of healthcare. I have a superb group of IT professionals that understand the triple aim and where IT fits into this puzzle.  They are ready and eager to partner to improve the health of the patients of our community while providing a solid highly reliable IT infrastructure that will facilitate the seamless transfer of data to all care environments.

Mark Newton: Right now I'm more excited about HIT's application for clinical integration. We're on that verge right now where we will have the required HIT environment that allows us to improve clinical care and have physicians using that data. We're at the point now with ambulatory and inpatient EHR that in very short order be able to sue that information for clinical decisions on what is the right care.

The other piece I'm interested in is having a patient portal. I'm looking forward to getting that implemented [in 2014]. The consumer is so used to using that in banking and airlines. I'm excited a bout having more consumerism in HIT.

Dr. Shafiq Rab: I'm excited about: cloud computing, mobility and apps for patients; empowering patients to take charge of their health; video interaction between parents and NICU babies; taking science from the labs to patient bedside; and total collaboration and connectivity between various fields of care, including: catastrophic care, acute care, sub-acute care, primary care, wellness, and preventive care.

Chris Van Gorder: I am most excited about the benefits that HIT will help us deliver to patients by making their medical records instantly and securely accessible to all of their healthcare providers and themselves at the click of a computer mouse. Coupled with online patient portals and wireless health devices and apps, health IT is letting us deliver the right care in the right place at the right time, resulting in better health outcomes and lower costs.

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