The technology trends reshaping healthcare delivery and hospital strategy from Middlesex Health CIO Evan Jackson

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Evan Jackson, CIO and vice president of planning and business development for Middlesex Health in Middletown, Conn., discusses the big trends in health IT today.

Question: What emerging trend or technology are you most interested in today and why?

Evan Jackson: There are two key trends. First, technology is commonly a driver of consolidation. It is expensive, complex to manage, and generally the domain of the largest most aggressive organizations. In healthcare, the best IT solutions fit this bill historically. As vendor offerings have become more comprehensive, and with the moves to standardization and remote hosting, I think we have entered a new era where technology need not be a differentiator available only to the biggest organizations. There remains a critical mass required, but largely this is not a barrier. I think that is a very significant trend that surprisingly is not talked about. Traditional drivers of consolidation remain, but that is a major one across industries and I believe it has been important in healthcare. The smaller organizations need to realize how significant the gap is between what the best solutions offer and be prepared to make that investment.

The second is the movement to telehealth, which I think can reshape the geographic construct we generally use to assess healthcare competition and partnerships. Regulations and reimbursement are a long way away from facilitating the potential for these changes, but I believe it will come eventually and the game will be entirely different.

Q: How do you think your role will change in the next three years? What are you doing today to prepare?

EJ: My role is as both the CIO and the vice president of strategy and business development so I am responsible for both executing IT strategy and trying to advise, promote and align general and technology initiatives to support our strategic positioning. I think the importance of these linkages will only grow.

Q: What is the most dangerous trend in healthcare or health IT today and why?

EJ: The countervailing forces which are at the same time: a) facilitating seamless data exchange; and b) the growing mistrust the public has in healthcare providers and payers as stewards of that data. If we cannot convince the public that we are careful with the data and taking thorough steps to protect it, all of the vision, hard work and promise of true data exchange will be for naught. You cannot have a market driven private system and effect coordination of care and rationalization of care without data sharing. One of those will have to go if we don't satisfy the privacy and security concerns.

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