What CIOs can gain from IT's collective knowledge

By nature, the field of health IT is constantly changing. CIOs and health IT leaders are tasked with implementing IT systems now while keeping an eye on future innovations and federal requirements.

With the focus on IT, CIOs are working with fellow leaders to learn best practices, bounce around ideas and gain insight into the larger industry. And this is happening through formal and informal means.

Mary Anne Leach, senior vice president and CIO of Colorado Children's Hospital in Aurora, said she consistently is networking with other CIOs.

"I email with other CIOs several times a month, attend local CIO forums four to five times a year and attend national forums at least four times a year — and it doesn't seem to be enough," she said, alluding to the continually changing environment.

Where one healthcare facility faces difficulties with IT, she said having other CIOs to talk to can help guide and inform best practices.

"No single individual or team can know it all, but there is very likely someone out there who has recent experience in an area you're investigating," she said.

John Lavender, director of IT at Fayetteville, Tenn.-based Lincoln County Health System, shared Ms. Leach's sentiment, adding that conversations with other IT leaders help him make operational decisions. "Through one-on-one conversations with peers, as well as through message boards and other social forums provided by organizations like CHIME, I'm able to take what I think is the right course of action and validate it," he said.

Additionally, Mr. Lavender said these types of networking relationships can help IT leaders gauge what is going on in other parts of the country as well as how different types of systems are approaching IT issues.

"Some of my colleagues are part of large corporate health systems, while others are operating in smaller rural and independent healthcare facilities like mine," he said. "Having insight into what the major players in the health IT industry are doing, what applications they are using and what successes and failures they've experienced has helped in the development of our overall IT strategy. When budgets are tight and time is tight, it's very helpful to be able to poll a group of peers for advice."

More articles on IT leadership:

The life of a healthcare CIO: UAB's Joan Hicks 
5 CMIOs to know 
CHIME launches two organizations for IT professionals 

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