Hospital CIOs: Don't just let data sit there--engage it

When considering ways to innovate healthcare and incorporate technology into better patient care, look to other industries--and don't hesitate to hop on a plane.

That advice came courtesy of Edward Marx, senior VP and CIO at Texas Health Resources, who was speaking at FierceHealthIT's executive breakfast, "Harnessing Technology and Data to Enable Accountable Care," held last week at HIMSS14 in Orlando, Fla. Marx said that he's "traveled the world" with his staff.

"Take [your staff] out, travel around the country, talk to peers in non-healthcare orgs and learn from them," Marx said. "This is a practical thing we can all make happen."

Leading by example, giving patients better access to their health records and borrowing innovations from other industries all are good strategies to transform healthcare, the panelists said during the event.

Offering another perspective, Chris Belmont, VP and CIO at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, said that the data is available, it just needs to be engaged.

For example, he said, at his former employer, Ochsner Health System in New Orleans, the patient portal would know when the heat index was high and would email particularly active patients reminders to hydrate.

"Get people into [the patient portal] so you can start interacting with patients before they have a problem," Belmont said. "[We] have to change the game."

Joel Vengco, VP and CIO of Baystate Health in Springfield, Mass., said his hope for sharing data is to get to a place where it's consumer-accepted.

"People connect data all the time. ... We have the ability to do it, we just have to take the trust," he said.

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