June 14, 2018
CIOs have always been key influencers and decision makers across their healthcare organizations. However, this influence has historically been focused on choosing and implementing technology and did not stray far beyond the walls of IT. Given the vast amounts of data and information available today, CIOs are now responsible for unlocking this data and the insights within it – evolving their roles to focus on driving strategies that address clinicians’ needs to empower both operational efficiency and clinical excellence.
As health systems continue the shift to value-based care, CIOs face a new set of challenges. While CIOs used to focus on finding ways to gather data, they – and their users – are now faced with data overload. Prioritizing how to make this ever-growing amount of data actionable to improve patient care is a far more strategic effort – one which requires solutions that seamlessly interoperate, are proven to be secure, and are cost-effective. By taking an enterprise-wide approach at both an operational and clinical level and by finding the right partner, CIOs can further their goals of seamlessly connecting data, technology and people across the health continuum. That will allow them to help deliver on the quadruple aim of enhancing experiences for patients and clinicians, improving outcomes and reducing costs. But to achieve any of this, CIOs need to understand what their users even need. What challenges are clinicians facing? What information about a patient is important to them? And what change management strategies need to be put in place to make sure these solutions are properly implemented and actually adopted? Understanding this human element is the crux of the CIO’s new role.
Tech that Helps – Not Hinders – Patient Care
As the healthcare industry focuses more on outcomes, clinicians need to have a holistic view of a patient, which requires various departments and modalities within the hospital to collaborate more. While this transition does require a change in workflow, CIOs are responsible for creating the infrastructure of technology that supports and encourages this transition, rather than putting more of a burden on clinicians and further complicating their daily processes – all of which can lead to among other things, burnout.
Clinician burnout is a growing challenge, with 43 percent of clinicians feeling the effects. Technology can be a solution to this problem, but can also be an aggravating factor if not implemented properly. For example, many clinicians have indicated that the introduction of electronic medical records (EMRs) into their workloads has been perceived as negative as they feel like they spend more time documenting the visit than focusing on the patient. Part of this challenge can be attributed to a lack of training, but much of it is tied directly to vendors not factoring in the human element in their technology. Consequently, ensuring that the technology selected fits into the workflow of clinicians and nurses is critical to ensuring adoption and driving improved satisfaction. After all, tech is supposed to and definitely can improve clinicians’ workloads as well as the quality of care. Intelligent solutions can help augment the provider experience. For example, technologies that leverage artificial or adaptive intelligence (AI) can help improve outcomes by performing certain repetitive tasks more quickly, or aggregating large amounts of data and presenting it in a way that with the goal of helping clinicians make better and faster diagnoses through a more informed view of a patient. These tools must seamlessly integrate with one another so that clinicians can easily access all of this data without having to click in and out of every system.
While all of this technology has great opportunity and power to transform patient outcomes, CIOs must have a clear understanding of their users’ needs and workflows to make the right implementation decisions, as well as ensure the proper training. This move beyond understanding the technology to understanding their community is a new paradigm of collaboration from the CIO.
We can no longer force technology on people and assume we have a solution. We must instead listen to clinicians’ needs and always remember the human element as we build and implement technologies.
Improved Operations…to Improve Operations
CIOs are responsible for significant investments, and ensuring these resources are leveraged is essential to maximizing return on investment. This operational efficiency spans multiple areas, including cost, uptime, resource allocation and security. One of the key areas of insight that help CIOs optimize operational departmental performance is providing visibility into data and systems across an organization. This visibility offers CIOs a view into how systems are running and allows them to make changes as needed to resource allocation to improve efficiencies and lower costs. For example, they may be able to see how frequently a specific machine is being scheduled or how cases are being assigned to specific radiologists to better distribute resources.
Additionally, CIOs will always be concerned with managing the expanse and expense of their healthcare informatics suite. No institution can afford delays related to uptime issues or the consequences of security issues. CIOs at healthcare organizations need to have confidence that their selected solutions will meet their stringent requirements of high levels of uptime and security to make sure no patient data is lost or compromised.
This improved interoperability between most systems helps put actionable insights into the hands of clinicians and leads to optimized care pathways, workflows and asset management to ultimately drive operational and financial efficiency.
The Next Evolution of Tech: Thinking about People First
The key thing CIOs must remember in the middle of this change is that while their organizations’ technology infrastructure is important, it is the people around it that matter the most. The CIOs role may be increasing, but that does not mean technology alone rules the hospital. It is a major factor that needs to be a part of the decision making process, but one that needs to be integrated into the clinical side of care as well. CIOs and clinicians will need to work together for the sake of better outcomes.
Changing human behavior is one of the biggest challenges in getting technology adopted in the right way so that it actually yields results. As the CIOs role morphs into one that works across all hospital departments and focuses on the overall goals of a health systems, this holistic view of both systems and solutions, as well as the people using them, will be of great importance.
Another critical part of this equation is the technology suppliers themselves. Vendors need to collaborate with their customers to deliver solutions that effectively meet their strategic objectives. Vendors need to help customer identify gaps in their workflow, resources and timelines to ensure the success of each solution. This also includes vendors working with each other to enable the success of the IT teams within the hospital.
New Challenge, New Opportunity
CIOs are now the key enablers for this goal of seamless care, and with this changing landscape and role, must work collaboratively across many areas to accomplish effective change. As the CIO moves into the driver’s seat and focuses on these key strategic areas, vendors must also follow suit and be the partners they need to help drive forward this new paradigm of value-based care. We can no longer force technology on people and assume we have a solution. We must instead listen to clinicians’ needs and always remember the human element as we build and implement technologies.
Yair Briman, CEO Healthcare Informatics at Philips