How health system CIOs are cutting costs, rethinking operational efficiency

When companies consider cost-cutting measures, it often results in layoffs, but health system CIOs are looking inward at their IT vendors, contracts and partnerships to assess different ways to optimize their workforce, which can save their health systems money in the long run.

Becker's asked five health system CIOs: What is one thing you're working on to cut costs or rethink how your organization operates?

Note: Their responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Jeri Koester. CIO of Marshfield (Wis.) Clinic Health System: It's been important to me that my teams have the ability to directly understand and manage the costs of IT with their business partners. 

We have strong vendor management, software asset management, portfolio management, service management, and financial management, all underpinned by the technology business management practice, to review costs, timing, and value of IT sent across our contracts and solutions.  

In healthcare's current climate, we are actively rationing our vendor solutions for anything redundant or non-critical to serve our patients.

Erick Schrier. CIO of Door County Medical Center (Sturgeon Bay, Wis.): At Door County Medical Center, we are taking an even closer look at our contract renewals. We challenge our vendors on maintenance and contract renewals that come in greater than 3 percent from the previous renewal.  

Another area that we are exploring more would be longer contract renewals for those vendors we have been partners with for a period of time. We have seen significant cost savings in signing a three- or even five-year contract renewal for those vendors we have a long-standing partnership with. 

Anna Turman. Division Chief Information Officer of CommonSpirit Health (Chicago): Rationalization, standardization and optimization of applications. 

We must be foundationally phenomenal at the "ions." When your knowledge and expertise is spread too thin you become average at many things and stellar at nothing. Being good stewards of business needs through application rationalization enables us to better support and improve the experiences of our customers. 

Tom Barnett. Chief Information and Digital Officer of Baptist Memorial Health Care (Memphis, Tenn.): We are strategically evaluating our circuit costs, both voice and data, across the enterprise and looking for any additional opportunities that might still be available.  

Raymond Lowe. Senior Vice President and CIO of AltaMed (Commerce, Calif.): On Jan. 1, 2022, the California Department of Health Care Services launched CalAIM and Enhanced Care Management for the Medi-Cal population.

CalAIM's bold mission to transform Medi-Cal requires the investment and sustained commitment of a broad network of health partners, including plans, providers, and community-based organizations for more than 14 million Californians, offering more equitable, coordinated, and person-centered care.

ECM patients are high utilizers of hospitals, emergency departments, and other services that are often avoidable with appropriate outpatient care. Many ECM patients are homeless and suffer from mental illness or substance abuse. We have a focused interdisciplinary team including community healthcare workers, providers, case managers, and IT to deliver programs that meet the ECM patients where they are to improve their treatment adherence and overall well-being.

By developing ECM programs and utilizing clinical systems, patient engagement, and enriched data analytics, we look to risk stratify and deliver appropriate care models for this most vulnerable patient population and be a model for transforming the healthcare sector. 

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