Stanford Health Care CIO Eric Yablonka: Navigating the IT budget after opening a new facility

Eric Yablonka, CIO at Stanford Health Care in Palo Alto, Calif., discusses how the health system's newest facility will impact operating costs as well as the projects he's most excited for in 2019.

Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: What does your health IT budget look like this year? Is it trending up or down over previous years?

Eric Yablonka: Our operating budget increased this fiscal year in large part due to the opening of a brand-new hospital facility. Taking that out, our operating budget is flat over the last year.

It is hard to predict the future, but I expect continued pressure on the operating budget as the full costs of the new facility are realized, and there is the need for moderating expenses in relation to our revenues. Capital budgets have been skewed high the last two years with large programmatic investments. Taking those out, we saw a reduced capital budget last fiscal year and this year more toward a steady state spending level.

Q: How are you allocating the budget? What difference is there this year compared to previous years?

EY: I would say the allocation is consistent with previous years, the big caveat being the intense focus and budget allocation on opening a new hospital facility.

Q: What projects are you most excited about for 2019?

EY: Certainly, opening our new facility is very exciting. From a technology perspective, it is certainly using leading edge technologies. I am also quite excited about working with our partners on artificial intelligence, machine learning, analytics and care coordination initiatives.

Our mobile health engagement platform MyHealth is widely deployed and rapidly gaining adoption. We are doing very innovative work there. We also plan to replace our human capital management platform, which is a great catalyst to making our employee engagement and experience stronger.

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