CHIME 2015: Health execs must speak the same language for strategic success

Hospital IT strategies that aren't in lockstep with overall organizational plans risk failure, several CIOs said during a track session last week at the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives' annual fall forum in Orlando.

"The IT strategic plan really is a reflection of your organizational strategic plan, or at least that's my experience," said Robert Eardley (pictured right), senior vice president and CIO at Houston Methodist. "IT is so embedded ... you have to work hard to find an exception where there's a key strategic [process] that's not framed around IT, technology, the flow of information."

Eardley said Houston Methodist's electronic health record consolidation and enhancement efforts reflect overall goals of improving workflow for clinicians. What's more, patient engagement efforts that focus on the use of technology help to enhance organization-wide convenience efforts.

IT, Eardley said "lays the framework" for other initiatives.

Albert Oriol (pictured left), vice president of information management and CIO at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego, agreed, adding that all stakeholders involved in the care process must be on the same page. He then gave a brief portion of his presentation in Spanish to drive his point home.

"It's impossible to have a shared vision when you're speaking two different languages," Oriol said. Rady's, like Houston Methodist, also favors use of an organizational strategic plan over a separate plan for IT, he said.

Added Jim Venturella, vice president of information systems and CIO at West Virginia University Health, IT is a "key enabler" for other groups within a hospital setting to do their jobs.

In another track session at the forum, CIOs said IT executives must align with fellow senior team officials to keep up with an accelerated pace of change in the industry. Donna Roach, CIO for Via Christie Health - Ascension Information Services, said executives increasingly are looking for CIOs "to create strong personal networks, and use those networks effectively."