Healthcare News & Insights

Advice your CIO needs to know for handling health IT changes

The world of healthcare technology is changing quickly. Is your Chief Information Officer (CIO) ready to help your hospital change with the industry? 

464404711Keeping up with new health technology is becoming a standard requirement for every hospital. As technological, regulatory, legislative and cultural changes continue to affect health care, your CIOs will have to find ways to help your hospital stay up-to-date and efficient.

Robert Szcerba, a Forbes contributor and former healthcare tech professional, asked CIOs and other executives for advice on how to handle changes and stay current with trends. Despite the different ideas each executive had about handling IT changes, there was one constant: Patients have to be the primary concern.

Here’s what the execs had to say:

Stay proactive

Boris Glants, chief technology officer for Tonic Health, recommends taking a page from the book of accountable care organizations (ACOs), and proactively screen the community to identify conditions early and bring patients in for preventive care. Your CIOs will have to look for ways to do the same, by effectively using research and patient data to improve their care.

Glants offers this example: Using medical information about conditions like sleep apnea — such as the typical age range, gender, body-mass index for sleep apnea patients — to create and conduct a survey of a targeted population to identify conditions early.

Creating interactive processes like this can help improve care and inform patients about conditions they may not have realized they had.

Find ways to fill gaps with technology

Karen Thomas, CIO of Main Line Health, advises other CIOs to look into how they can help providers keep in contact with patients and fill in health information gaps between visits.

This might mean putting a greater emphasis on providing telehealth to patients through video conferencing, or using technology and apps to monitor aspects of patients health — such as allowing doctors to see when patients take medicine or their conditions change.

Watch out for new advancements

This may seem like a no-brainer, but keeping ahead of the tech game is becoming harder.

There are about 50,000 healthcare-related apps available for mobile devices, which can help your physicians keep in contact with and monitor patients remotely. As apps and other technology develops, your CIOs will have to sift through advancements to see which can best help your facility without compromising patient privacy, care-quality or health information security.

Staying up-to-date in technology may also call for recruiting or training staff to be up-to-date with all the relevant compliance, privacy and information security laws and regulations, as Bert Robles, CIO of New York City Health and Hospital Corporation advises.

CIOs will also have to create IT infrastructures that effectively incorporate new technology, protects patients and are capable of adapting and evolving with the industry.

Use others to improve privacy, security

CIOs can handle technology and industry changes best by getting help from others with expertise outside of IT — such as privacy regulation, security, etc. It’s crucial that changes and improvements be discussed as a group.

Gavin Kruenacker, a health information services executive for MRO Corp., suggests hospitals leaders of information management, compliance and risk discuss issues like: patient consent management, accounting disclosures, process and governance redesign, and centralized and decentralized approaches to health information exchanges.

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