When I first got here,
when there was a network
issue, it was an inconvenience. It was a hassle, but
everything was manageable. Today it’s mission-critical; the technology
has become a key driver
in supporting the care-delivery process.
Continued from page 10
how did that change
affect your job? It has
increased the visibility
of the IT function. Now
everyone knows who the
I T guys are. And that puts
some unexpected pressure
on the group that you have
to find ways to relieve. The
other change is demand.
Look at the amount of
technology we’ve deployed
to our users, our custom-
ers. Before, they were
simply accepting of the
technology, but now
the awareness of what
technology can do for
them has been raised to a
point where they’re asking
for new technologies and
created a demand curve
that’s very steep, but our
resources for providing
that haven’t increased as steeply. So the challenge for
us as IT leaders is demand management.
step up and
educate the legislators, so they
don’t put out rules that are
You’ve talked about the importance of Cios playing
a role in public policy. why is it important? CIOs
shouldn’t be just technologists. Most of us aren’t.
We’re businesspeople who first and foremost understand how technology can impact the business.
And we’re seeing now the federal and state governments’ drive to transform healthcare. We know that
the large industry players, both private and public,
are looking for ways to make healthcare delivery
more efficient while trying to improve or maintain
effectiveness, and they’ve pinned a lot of hopes on
technology. But I think there’s a gap between the
theory of technology deployment and the reality of
it, and CIOs are uniquely qualified to step up and
educate the legislators, so they don’t put out rules
that are unattainable.
skills you need? You have to understand the business
of healthcare and how technology plays a role. The
CIO’s team touches the entire healthcare organization unlike any other healthcare executive. We’re
uniquely positioned to have that big picture of the
organization. You have to be able to communicate
complex concepts in an easy manner. You have to be
diplomatic. You need discipline around demonstrating value. Those are some of the key skills as CIOs.
How does it prepare us for the advocacy role? It all
lends itself to that education mission.
The hi TeCh Act promotes “the adoption and
meaningful use of health information technology.”
how do you define “meaningful use”? Very simplistically, being a meaningful user of technology means
[answering yes to these questions]: Are you getting
value from the technology? Are you getting value for
patients, caregivers and the organization as a whole?
have you achieved meaningful use in your own
organization? We have. We attested for Stage 1
[under the federal HITECH Act] in September. I’m
waiting for that big check to come. The calculations
that were done by our finance folks show that we’re
entitled to $2.7 million, approximately.
what were the challenges to achieving that goal
in your organization? The key challenges were
around getting my customers, the end users, to
come to the table to participate in implementing the
technology. Most viewed it as, “That’s IT’s responsibility. Just tell me when you’re done.” But they
now realize if they don’t participate, the system isn’t
optimized to meet their needs. Then you have to
change the culture, how they work on a daily basis,
to maximize use of the technology. That’s been the
greatest challenge. An interesting side note to that:
Sometimes changing culture means some people
have to do more work than before and not realize the
value themselves but see the value to the organization as a whole.
what about achieving meaningful use overall as an
industry? what obstacles remain? At CentraState,
we’re fortunate to have kicked off a strategy and
implemented a lot of technology before meaningful
use came to be, so that put us in a good position. So
I think that’s one of the challenges for others. I think
we’re also seeing a growing shortage of skilled labor
to get the work done. As more and more are pushing
to implement technology, the pool of labor who
understands the technology is being gobbled up. And
that whole cultural change — that’s real, too. You’ve
got to get these clinicians to buy into changing their
work, and that’s not trivial.
– Intervie w by Computerworld contributing writer
mary K. pratt ( firstname.lastname@example.org)