Health IT leaders must 'adapt or die'

Healthcare organizations struggling with information technology must "adapt or die," according to a recent article in CIO magazine.

Thanks to electronic health records, patient data is now in repositories, and CIOs must make sense of all that data and protect it.

Skip Snow, a senior analyst with Forrester research and advisory firm, told CIO about five technology imperatives for U.S. healthcare providers--here are three:

  1. Clean up data: Snow says organizations must at least be able to import and export HL7 continuity of care (CCD) files; they also should consider creating an infrastructure that safeguards protected health information (PHI).
  2. Invest in customer and patient insight: This means investing in clinical, operational and financial data management tools and establishing a common vocabulary for shared business entities.
  3. Embrace mobile: mHealth, among many other uses, can be used as a bridge between remote monitoring and EHR systems, easing patient concerns about telehealth.

"In no other industry has technology been called on to so significantly alter the fundamental relationships that are occurring in the delivery of healthcare today ... Technology has frequently been managed on a case-by-case, need-by-need basis without a strong road map being in place, which is the core of good enterprise architecture," Smith told CIO, regarding why these action items are so imperative for healthcare organizations.

Hiring for new IT positions will be a priority for CIOs this year, according to Bonnie Siegel, a healthcare IT recruiter for Witt/Kieffer. Some of those roles include: data scientists, analytics experts, chief information security officers (particularly in light of the recent Target data breach, as reported last week), chief applications officers, heads of digital technology and social media and chief applications officers.

According to a HIMSS Analytics report published last month, top priorities for health IT executives in the next two years mostly are tied closely to governmental mandates, but also include project management.

"The need to develop a successful strategy to manage data is essential," the HIMSS Analytics report concluded. "An increasing number of healthcare organizations are using analytics from current data and archived data to project the needs of their patients and streamline their organizational business performance."

To learn more:
- read the article in CIO

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