Health care organizations are privy to a colossal amount of highly sensitive personal data, and as such, are one of the most highly regulated industries in the U.S. Even the most benign security breach could have catastrophic effects on patients’ lives. Therefore, it’s no surprise that breaches, regulatory compliance and meaningful use are issues that keep health care CIOs up at night. However, with the right planning, it is possible to reduce the risk these threats pose, as well as some of the stress.
Ed Simcox, health care business leader for Logicalis US, an international IT solutions and managed services provider, recently spoke with The Healthcare Insider radio network. In his interview, Simcox identified six of the top issues in health care IT that cause sleepless nights for admins, as well as best practices for resolving these important concerns.
“Traditionally, CIOs and their IT departments in large health care organizations have been considered a necessary cost center,” Simcox says. “But CIOs today want to move up the value chain inside their organizations, making IT more strategic and relevant to their Boards of Directors. Health care CIOs are transforming from what essentially was an asset management role to that of a strategic business advisor to the health system.”
Six Things Keeping Health Care CIOs Up at Night
Click through for six of the top issues in health care IT that cause sleepless nights for admins, as well as best practices for resolving these important concerns, as identified by Logicalis.
Data security is top of mind for CIOs today, particularly as new data breaches occur regularly across a variety of industries. For health care CIOs in particular, this is a concern because the health care security laws have teeth in them, so when faced with declining budgets and increased risks, determining how to maintain the proper levels of security is certainly something that keeps IT pros up at night. Working with a third party that has particular expertise in security can help CIOs take a step back and examine potential holes in their security posture that they might not otherwise be aware exist.
There are three stages to the Meaningful Use initiative. Stage 1 is about data capture and patient access. Stage 2 is about exchanging information across an integrated organization as well as care coordination throughout the health care community. And Stage 3 is about improving patient outcomes by not only capturing data, but by making meaningful use of that data to inform clinical and administrative decisions. Since analytics involves using data for clinical and business decision making, which adds strategic value to the organization, Big Data and the use of analytics will be requirements going forward.
Everyone is talking about Big Data across many different industries, but it’s especially relevant in health care. In the health care market, the move toward Big Data is not about choosing a platform or product; it’s about an IT maturation that will drive capability and process improvements in the organization as a whole. Before implementing an analytics strategy, CIOs must consider how they’ll curate data as well as the kinds of data governance policies that must be put in place. It’s not as much about the destination as it is about continually maturing the organization – setting up data governance and adhering to those governing principles. CIOs insisting on data maturity and governance will sleep well.
Clinicians are being weighed down by the number of systems they have to log into when accessing or recording patient data; the average for doctors is about 40 logins with passwords they have to memorize to just do their jobs. Some nurses carry between three and five mobile devices with them all day long as well. All of this means less time for doctors and nurses to connect with patients and a lot of administrative overhead, which drives up costs. The hard work for the CIO is to analyze which devices are being used, for what, and how to simplify the computing and communications environment so that the technology fades into the background and clinicians are able to focus on patients.
Medical imaging is growing by leaps and bounds, not only in radiology but in other “ologies” – cardiology, dermatology, pathology. They’re all leveraging imaging data more, so there’s explosive growth in the number of files, but also in the size of the files being generated. The resolution of images is going up, the number of slices CT scans are producing is growing, so the question for CIOs is how to manage all of this data. IT pros need to focus on the business aspects of managing vast amounts of data, and they need a strategy for enterprise image management that’s larger than just radiology, even though radiology accounts for the largest number of images being stored.
The goal is to enable clinicians to see any type of study that has been done as well as clinical documentation in a longitudinal patient view, so they get a contextual timeline – complete with pictures – of that patient’s health trends over a period of years. To be most effective, these solutions have to be vendor and modality neutral. The good news is that a lot of software startups are working on this now, so we are very close to being able to implement this, something that is critically important when talking about making meaningful use of data.
The year-long delay in ICD-10 conversions has left a number of CIOs scratching their heads, wondering whether to proceed or put on the brakes with regard to implementation of the new International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems code revisions. For those organizations that invested in preparation for ICD-10 – those that did the proper clinician training and updated their systems – the consensus seems to be that moving forward with the concepts and activating ICD-10 is the best strategy.
Moving forward tells stakeholders in a particular health care organization or system that you’re a CIO that’s serious about regulatory compliance, and that the organization is readying the data analytics and decision support mechanisms that were not there previously in preparation for ICD-10’s adoption. While the delay does buy some time, good clinician buy-in is the most important factor in the recipe for success for the new ICD-10 rollout, so moving forward now, despite the delay in the requirement, strongly communicates that your organization is all in.