First are mobility and the continued consumer demand for instant and rapid results. My four year old daughter expects all technology to respond to her as easily and rapidly as her Apple iPad does. So we know that the expectation of the consumer will continue to demand faster and more agile response times to requests.
Second is availability and proliferation of broadband connectivity to all parts of the globe. With millions of people suddenly able to hook up to the information superhighway, this will drastically change the types of patients that healthcare organizations start to treat. Already it is quickly becoming more common place for a video diagnosis to take place between a physician and patient located in China. Recently, Walnut Hill Medical Center took part in a worldwide cardiology conference with other premier healthcare institutions, in which our world renowned cardiologists tutored other clinicians from across the globe in medicine procedure and clinical best practice. It was just twenty years ago when the first dial-up internet companies were becoming more mainstream and here we are delivering tele cardiology across the globe.
Technology, if applied correctly, is the glue in which healthcare organizations will be able to deliver top quality healthcare. Organizations are quickly turning to tele-robotics in order to enable the clinicians to become more agile and deliver even better healthcare. It is now common place for a hospital to invest in a clinical modality that allows for robotic precision during a complicated surgery with perhaps a patient that has a severe comorbidity, and that clinical robotic modality which allows for a fantastic quality outcome that may have not been achievable if the surgery had been done by human hand. Secondly, organizations who are quick to leverage the cloud and deliver critical clinical applications real-time in an agile manner.
"As time evolves, the CIO position across the industry must morph to be of this same focus – the patient"
Changing Role of IT and CIOs
The beauty of Walnut Hill Medical Center is that it’s a brand new organization that was built for solely one reason–to focus on the patient. As CIO for Walnut Hill Medical Center, that focus is one of the key decision points for every technology decision we make. As time evolves, the CIO position across the industry must morph to be of this same focus–the patient. It is no longer just an Information Officer role but that of an Innovation Officer with a hybrid cross of a Patient Experience Officer (CXO). If we tru¬ly believe that technology is the healthcare business enabler, then only when you derive value from the IT surrounding the patient, that’s when you will see the CIO office truly be successful and shine the brightest.
Elevating IT Relationship with Business
One of the fun aspects of Walnut Hill Medical Center is the fact we are a brand new organization. Technology is not meant to be the end all be all solution for every organizational challenge. Technology is simply an enabler for good clinical process and as a positive transformative mechanism for your clinicians and physicians. Therefore, a lot of what IT does at Walnut Hill is not simply technology enablement, but also as a business partner at the table white boarding out best clinical practice and process. To be a part of IT at Walnut Hill Medical Center does not mean you sit in the IT budget or that you have a title of system analyst or clinical Informaticist. It means that you’re a member of our Walnut Hill Medical Center family and that you leverage and understand how technology can best be applied for the patients and caregivers. We even involve outside experts and community members to bounce ideas off of each other, and look at every dimension possible with the patient at the center of our focus. Secondly, the technology we have thoughtfully invested in continues to drive the patient experience to the next level. As evidenced by our nationally recognized and award winning Emergency Department, the patients observe a level of interaction and community buy-in that’s unlike that of a traditional hospital setting. Here, we are all together on a journey instead of a siloed departmental endeavor.
CIOs as Ombudsman between IT and Business
The role of the CIO for security, particularly in healthcare, is as important as it is for our front line staff. Security is everyone’s business, not just IT. So step one is enabling the business to truly talk about and understand the importance of the best security practice or as I call it security hygiene. The CSO role is an important one in mature organizations that seek to continue to refine organizational process and policy and assist in breaking down the most complicated of regulations into those that can be easily interpreted and understood by the front line staff. However, it is not a simply as handing the entire responsibility to one person. The CIO and CSO must work together just as much as we expect our clinicians and physicians to work together for the benefit of the patients they serve.
Advice to New CIOs
Stay current on all of the issues affecting the industry and always educate your fellow c-suite on any technology or even non technology pertinent items that could in any way, shape or form affect your organization. Second, stay involved in all aspects of the business not just technology related. Third, go out and round the organization. Get to know the front line staff, business and clinical leaders and develop a trust. If the trust is gone between information technology and the business leaders than the effort will be a lost cause. Finally, give back to the industry. Whether it’s through advocacy with legislatures, speaking at national conferences, being a part of committees helping the federal government decide a course of action give back to the community!