Marc Probst: Data standards, ICD-10 among healthcare's biggest hurdles

Among the biggest challenges currently facing the health IT industry, two in particular that stand out, according to Intermountain Healthcare CIO Marc Probst, are interoperability and ICD-10. With regard to the former, the outspoken Salt Lake City-based hospital executive, who also serves as a member of the federal Health IT Policy Committee, has made no bones about the fact that he thinks the government needs to set standards now.

"We've got to get things standardized, and it's not happening fast enough," Probst (pictured right) told FierceHealthIT in a recent interview.

"We're spending gazillions of dollars and we don't have interoperability."

Launching the Meaningful Use program before setting standards, Probst said, has made the industry impatient. He called the current approach to Meaningful Use "short in sight," and an inefficiency driver.

"We're spending gazillions of dollars and we don't have interoperability," Probst said. "I have a huge staff that does interfaces. And every time the software changes, they do interfaces again. And every time we have a problem, they do interfaces again. It's not efficient."

Probst added that while he thinks more recent policy committee conversations that have focused less on listing features and more on improving care have been promising, had standards been set from the get-go, things could be a lot different.

"You'd be amazed at how well innovation would perform," he said.

Probst said the overlap with interoperability challenges have made ICD-10 particularly grueling for hospital CIOs.

"I feel for [CIOs]--maybe more than some of the other committee members--because I get to live the dream," Probst said.

"ICD-10 is massive. I actually think we're going to get there before some of our vendors, and the vendors are going to get there before some of the institutions we have to connect and exchange information with. It's a lot of effort and a lot of risk."

Read more on