Hospital CIO: Healthcare lags in harnessing IT

As industries flourish due to advances in technology and information sharing, healthcare lags far behind, says Dick Escue, CIO at Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.  

Escue (pictured), in a commentary published in the Wall Street Journal, writes that the healthcare industry is not harnessing all that technology can offer because market leaders are not delivering big enough advancements to the systems. Regulations, he says, are part of the reason for that, making it hard for startups to enter the market and offer new technologies. In addition, he says hospital contracts with vendors that use antiquated software are having a negative impact on quality and new initiatives.

Others have also stressed the need in healthcare for innovation, rather than adoption. In a recent Health Affairs blog post, the authors say programs like Meaningful Use have "obscured the creative opportunity for clinicians to explore how to use EHRs to improve care, and to see their own actions as part of the solution to effective implementation."

Escue says electronic health records have also not done enough to help hospitals. They are not cloud-based, open or social--and all require significant investment, he writes.

"[T]he most egregious issue is that hospitals are directed to pursue a strategy that encourages consolidation onto a single vendor technology platform instead of interoperating with heterogeneous EHR systems," he says.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT does have a 10-year plan in place to develop an interoperable health ecosystem. However, some are questioning the agency's efforts.

Escue says that the state of the industry can change, but hospitals have to take steps in the right direction by rejecting technology partners that lack accountability for advancing outcomes. Successful facilities, he says, will be the ones that focus on quality initiatives, population health and care expansion instead of outdated technology and money.

To learn more:
- read Escue's commentary