Avoid the bright, shiny objects in health IT: How hospitals can eliminate distractions to strategy

With the rapid evolution of technology and advent of new products and systems, it can be easy for a hospital or health system to become wrapped up in new technology that may deviate from the organization's overall strategy.

At Becker's Hospital Review's 5th Annual Health IT + Revenue Cycle event in Chicago on Oct. 10, panelists gathered to discuss how they filter out the noise surrounding health innovation and stay on track of their health IT and digital strategies. Molly Gamble, editor-in-chief and vice president of editorial at Becker's Healthcare, moderated the panel session, which also featured the following participants:

· Jonathan Manis, senior vice president and CIO at Christus Health in Irving, Texas.
· Bruce Metz, PhD, vice president and CIO at UConn Health in Farmington, Conn. 
· Theresa Hiltunen, associate CIO of entity services at Penn Medicine in Philadelphia. 
· Craig Richardville, senior vice president and CIO at SCL Health in Denver. 

Here are four takeaways from the session on how to avoid distractions to health IT strategy:

1. Have clarity around ongoing projects as well as those the organization plans to pursue. Setting a core agenda, not just for the next few days or week but for the next few months, will help the IT team discern what projects and initiatives are important and how to receive adequate buy-in across the organization.

2. Foster an engaged, informed and well-educated governance structure. The CIO is responsible for educating the team, but appointing additional leaders and delegating tasks will help to team define its strategy for planned IT initiatives as well as projects it is not going to pursue. Establishing this distinction is crucial to exercising discretion when it comes to rolling out new products or projects. 

3. Implement a playground or lab area to help foster IT and digital project ideas and products without damaging production systems. This process helps identify shiny object proposals because people realize the idea may not compatible and will cost the hospital or health system more time and money than originally anticipated. 

4. Avoid going off on a tangent and implementing an expensive undertaking of technology by instead considering ways to integrate the thought process or technology into core systems already being used.

More articles on health IT:
Viewpoint: Where do primary care providers fit into the 'digital health arms race'?
Mount Sinai launches app for personalized wellness guidance
U of Arizona Health Sciences to offer course in developing, commercializing medical treatment

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