5 big challenges facing CIOs today

What issues are the biggest ones CIOs face today? Panelists Keith Griffin, MD, Novant Health Medical Group’s CMIO; Jack Salmon, PhD, UIC School of Public Health professor of health policy; and Jim Ingram, MD, FACS, CMO of Greenway Health came up with the following list at during a Nov. 4 panel at the Becker’s Hospital Review Annual CIO and CEO Strategy Roundtables.

The biggest challenges include:

1. Tackling interoperability across the continuum of care. This is a major concern for both CIOs and for the future of healthcare as a whole. “The reality is that it’s like building an interstate system. We did it backward. First, we built all the systems within cities, then we tried to build connections in-between. It would’ve been much easier to build the connections first. As a result, we lost the ability to pull information from other systems,” said Dr. Ingram.

2. Dealing with change management and the technology adoption learning curve. As hospitals and health systems adopt and implement new technology and become more sophisticated with old, helping clinicians onboard is a must. In particular, showing the benefits of the new system can be useful for morale, according to Dr. Salmon, who discussed the successful adoption of electronic prescribing as an example.

3. Understanding governmental regulation. “Government regulation is probably more misunderstood than it is disliked, and that’s the problem with the [meaningful use] rollout,” said Dr. Salmon. Understanding where CMS is coming from is a particularly difficult challenge because it may not have any easy or obvious solutions, while the meaningful use program continues to roll out.

4. Getting information digitized. It’s a reality: Not all health information is fully digitized, and sometimes it’s hard to get clinicians to embrace electronic systems. “We have tried to be flexible in terms of how people can document their notes.We’re trying to leverage things to make them easier on our physicians,” said Dr. Griffin.

5. Using health IT for population management. It seems obvious: If a hospital digitizes all of its data, population health should be within reach. However, it’s not that easy. Some patients remain a challenge, despite the fact that a hospital or health system is able to profile their health and wellness. Using population health data to affect individual change is something that should be simmering on CIOs’ back burners, according to Dr. Salmon.

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