Tech strategies at the hospitals that topped CHIME's 'Most Wired' list

In October, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives released its Most Wired list, acknowledging hospitals that have adopted and deployed information technology to improve patient safety and health outcomes across the industry.

Hospitals included in the Most Wired program are certified as Levels 1-10, with Levels 9 and 10 designating the health IT leaders that have displayed the highest and most innovative uses of technology at their respective organizations. There were eight hospitals that made the top of the list, meaning they achieved Level 10 recognition from CHIME in 2021.

Here, executives from seven of those eight organizations share what sets their tech strategy apart from other hospitals.

Editor's note: Responses have been edited lightly for clarity and style.

Nader Mherabi. Executive Vice President and Vice Dean and Chief Digital and Information Officer at NYU Langone Health (New York City): What sets NYU Langone Health apart is our continued alignment and integration with our clinical, research and education missions at multiple levels, including senior leadership. Through our enterprise integrated technology platforms and rapid adoption of digital transformation, we are continually improving the digital experiences for our patients, clinicians, researchers, students, faculty and staff.

Ed McCallister. Senior Vice President and CIO at UPMC (Pittsburgh): What sets UPMC's tech strategy apart from others is the scale of our investments in both core technology infrastructure and technology innovation that is enabling the transformation of care. Thanks to the support from our leadership and our partnerships with clinicians, we have invested more than $2.4 billion in technologies over the past five years. Because of these investments, we have been able to support UPMC's growth as we have doubled in size over the past few years, sustained remote operations during the pandemic for 85 percent of our workforce (or about 78,000+ employees), and redefined how we serve our patients, our health plan members and our communities.

UPMC was also the largest and first healthcare provider to implement Microsoft's Office 365 platform. This key investment occurred prior to the pandemic and was instrumental in facilitating collaboration and communication as operations moved to remote. 

As one of the largest integrated delivery and financing systems in the country, UPMC has created extraordinary opportunities for how we can use technology to create a connected, coordinated and personalized experience for patients and UPMC Health Plan members. One example of this is our next generation clinical analytics platform that is being developed with technologies such as artificial intelligence to derive new insights for treating complex conditions.

Jason Joseph. Senior Vice President and Chief Digital and Information Officer at Spectrum Health (Grand Rapids, Mich.): Our approach is focused on the premise that tech strategy isn’t just about layering on new technologies simply to enable features or solutions, but about intelligently designing digital platforms that are as simple and connected as possible. This allows us to digitally transform our business and drive change management activities without focusing so much on the tools and technology. 

We embody this in five guiding principles: putting people first, being brilliant at the basics, designing for digital, powered by platforms, and aligning for agility. These principles allow our teams to deliver value while also keeping us focused on the strategy of “how” we get there.

Bill Phillips, Senior Vice President and CIO at University Health (San Antonio): We believe in leading technology, best practices and a strong integration model to successfully support our complex health system. This success did not happen overnight. It takes strong support from leadership to fulfill the technology vision.

Bruk Kammerman. Senior Vice President and CIO at Avera Health (Sioux Falls, S.D.): Avera fosters a strong culture of innovation, combining the latest technology with medical expertise to benefit our patients. This commitment to enhancing the patient and caregiver experience hearkens back to our founders — the Benedictine and Presentation Sisters — who were innovators and trailblazers when our health ministry started over a century ago and continue to be today.

We contribute to the mission by providing innovative technologies while maintaining data security and integrity. We help Avera meet patients where they are, serving more than a quarter of a million patients through our patient and consumer portal. We’ve enhanced functionality to include integrated virtual visits, the ability to update prescriptions, allergies and problems, direct appointment booking, secure messaging and more.

We support innovative programs including our home care, which supports care within the home through virtual technology. This service was critical to care for people during the pandemic to make sure the most critical could access the right level of care.

John Kravitz. CIO at Geisinger (Danville, Pa.): Geisinger’s technical strategy is closely aligned with the organization’s strategy: "Making better health easier." We have established a culture of innovation in which we work with our providers to close gaps in care, identify clinical findings faster and take appropriate action, working tirelessly to improve the quality of care delivered. We develop tools and applications that make for a superior customer experience, from the use of facial recognition for accurate patient identification to the use of bots to connect with the customer to assist in their care support and delivery.

Mike Minear. Senior Vice President and CIO at Lehigh Valley Health Network (Allentown, Pa.): The first thing is our organizational culture. For an organization to have all the things in place to achieve Most Wired Level 10, there must be a strong focus on delivering value from technology. This starts with organizational leadership supporting investments in modern technology, high level change leadership, and deep partnerships between clinical, operational, and technology functions. The Lehigh Valley Health Network has these things and is also very metrics driven, goal oriented and encourages honest discussion when things aren’t working — what barriers exist and what needs to be done to address them. 

The second thing is that LVHN invests in technology to support clinical and clinicians and support other organizational goals. Every effort is made at the organizational and project levels to be clear what technology must deliver. This also helps LVHN to avoid the "shiny object" approach to investing in technology. The needs of patients and clinicians or enhancing revenue cycles drives how LVHN prioritizes and invests in digital transformation vs. deploying "neat technology" and then chasing value that may be elusive with a technology-first approach. LVHN has focused on clinical outcomes and service improvements such as reducing re-admissions and length of stay, and to make it easier for patients to access and utilize clinical services. LVHN learned a new pace to deploy and use technology during the pandemic and continues to leverage this learning with ongoing work and innovation. 

The next thing is our technology decisions and priorities. There are many other things that an organization must do to reach Level 10. This starts with choosing the right vendors and technologies and holding vendor partners accountable. LVHN works hard to leverage technology investments; an example is an "Epic first" approach where LVHN will leverage its investment in the EHR vs. adding duplicate functionally from niche vendors that cost a lot more to integrate with the EHR and clinical or revenue cycle workflows. 

The last thing is analytics. With its metrics culture LVHN has a very strong focus on analytics. The senior leadership of LVHN has been very engaged in designing the content required to manage the organization and support decision making. A deep Analytics Portal was built four years ago and has been constantly updated with additional visualizations and content. The portal is viewed as the "system of truth," and the focus is on all leaders sharing this content vs. working from multiple views of data and trends. This work went into overdrive during the COVID pandemic, where many new types of data and visualizations were needed and quickly created for the new environment and challenges.

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