Connecting the Operational Leadership

By CIOReview | Wednesday, February 19, 2014
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Vincent S. Vitali, CIO, La Rabida Children's Hospital

 Challenges in technology to meet enterprise needs in 2013 and expectations

The biggest technology issue in my mind is interoperability.  Meaningful Use Stage 1 began requiring health systems to reach out to patients and share information outside of their own organizations.  Meaningful Use Stage 2 greatly expands these requirements, especially around patient engagement. 

 The areas in business environment where solutions do not yet exist or not up to the mark, and which if existed, would've made job easier

Healthcare reform is driving a huge shift in our industry and is creating new IT requirements.  The needs for analytics and reporting have grown significantly.  Business intelligence tools and skills are required, but are expensive to implement and maintain.  Health Information Exchanges are popping-up all around us and the technologies and approaches vary among each.  Having to maintain multiple connections and interfaces to multiple HIEs is becoming a real challenge.  Relationships among providers and payers are also changing. 

 Manner in which Data is used to head off problems and complications before they happen

 A growing part of our role is providing patient education and follow-up after leaving the hospital.  We’ve taken the approach of ‘operationalizing’ many of the quality standards included in Meaningful Use Stage 1 and 2.  We’ve built the data gathering into our workflows, asking the questions during assessments and interventions to be able to capture the required data elements, and trigger required follow-up. 

Thoughts on how IT strategic planning supports organization-wide efforts to improve quality, cut costs and improve efficiency in the Healthcare sector

We are actually going through an analysis and development of a new IT and Data Governance process to better tie IT strategic planning to the organizational goals and objectives.  Project prioritization has become extremely important in allocating limited staff and budget for an increasing number of requests, driven by healthcare reform and rapidly changing technology.  As part of this process, we are defining a set of Guiding Principles to govern our decision-making.  One of these is that business needs drive technology decisions.  Another is that operational leadership will own IT-related projects.  These and others ensure the technology adopted addresses key operational needs such as quality improvement, staff productivity, cost-reduction, etc.

 Technology Trends Impacting Enterprise Business Environment

One is clearly the cloud.  Moving applications, data, and even infrastructure to the cloud can greatly improve an organizations ability to be responsive.  Cloud-computing is not quite where it needs to be for wholesale change of current operations but it does hold great promise, especially in administrative and financial areas.  And the other is mobile computing.  

 My roles and responsibilities as a CIO

My roles have changed to more of a consultant function. CIOs today must be closely aligned with business leaders and operations.  You must understand clinical, financial and administrative workflow and data needs.  The role also has greatly expanded into knowledge management vs. technology management, not simply providing data but analysis and reporting tools and expertise to extract usable information.

Lessons learnt and your advice for fellow CIOs

My best advice is to build relationships with all of the operational leadership in your organization.  Truly work to understand what keeps them up at night.  Also, never stop educating yourself and your organization about opportunities to apply technology to solve business needs.