Why CIOs of today will be tomorrow's CEOs + the impact of IT on healthcare: Summit Healthcare CIO Aaron Young

Aaron Young, CIO at Summit Healthcare Regional Medical Center in Show Low, Ariz., discusses the increasing importance of IT in healthcare and what Summit Healthcare is doing to improve the revenue cycle process.

Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: What's the biggest misconception about health IT? 

Aaron Young: The biggest misconception about health IT is that IT leaders don't have "operational" experience, but IT is a loss leader that belongs in the basement. IT not only touches every operational process across the organization but also understands upstream and downstream processes. The CIO division is key in improving healthcare operations. Our CMO often says, 'IT is more critical to the success of our organization than bricks and mortar.' The success of healthcare organizations in the future will be dependent on the organization's implementation of technology. I believe today's CIOs will be tomorrow's CEOs because of the CIO's ability to understand technology, solve problems and adapt to change in order to better navigate the healthcare landscape.

Q: How do you promote innovation within your organization?

AY: The best ways I've found to promote innovation within our organization are to build trust by providing a robust infrastructure, "connecting the dots" for stakeholders and putting the patient at the center of our decision-making. I'm fortunate to have a supportive CEO and board that buys into the information technology vision to fund IT investments. Summit Healthcare has replaced its entire IT infrastructure since I started four years ago. In doing so, we've architected an infrastructure with excess capacity that is an open standard and agile. Having a robust infrastructure allowed us to deliver patient-centered solutions that decrease IT time for end-users, improve system uptime and ultimately improve patient safety and experience.

Q: What is the biggest barrier to price transparency in the healthcare industry?

AY: I believe the biggest barrier to price transparency in healthcare is due to health system and payer complexity. Price determined by the patient's payer combined with the complex provider environment makes establishing price transparency difficult. Our CFO brought in a successful program called MD save to help address price transparency. This program pre-negotiates rates with providers so patients can pre-pay their bill before their visit. If healthcare systems would provide more integrated bundled solutions, we may be more easily able to provide accurate, transparent pricing for patients and families.

Q: How has your organization improved the revenue cycle process in the past year? Or, if your organization hasn't improved its revenue cycle process, how would you go about it?

AY: Historically, Summit Healthcare hasn't had dedicated revenue cycle resources in the CIO division. Last year, I brought on a manager of financial system to consult for and improve revenue cycle system use.

Additionally, Summit Healthcare has invested in an enterprise EMR/revenue cycle solution from Allscripts to streamline revenue cycle processes by consolidating multiple systems onto the Allscripts Sunrise platform. The single EMR solution will provide better visibility into the revenue cycle process and support improved charge capture to improve revenue cycle for Summit Healthcare.

To learn more about clinical and IT leadership, register for the Becker's Hospital Review 2nd Annual Health IT + Clinical Leadership Conference May 2-4, 2019 in Chicago. Click here to learn more and register.

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