Hospital CIOs must be proactive to be 'effective'

A recent post at iHealthBeat applies the principals behind Stephen Covey's "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" to the work of hospital CIOs. The popular author--his best-known book sold 20 million copies--died last month; he was 77.  

Author Doug Thompson, a senior research director at The Advisory Board Company, sums up the idea behind Covey's book in one thought: If all of us did the simple things we already know, it would change the world. He calls upon leaders in health IT to flesh out Covey's points. Among them:

Be proactive. CIOs in every industry say they want a seat at the executive table, but waiting to be invited won't get you there. CEOs tend to think their governing boards need to be pared down to be effective and are unlikely to widen the circle at the management table for a passive CIO. Thompson urges CIOs to take initiative and responsibility for defining their strategic role within the organization.

Healthcare increasingly looks to technology not only to cut costs and to become more effective in traditional paradigms, but also to identify and enable new lines of business. Health IT remains a growing segment of the budget. Use that to show how technology provides value for the organization. CIOs who can stay ahead of that curve increase the influence of their departments – as does showing leadership amid a crisis, as Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center's transparency about a data breach illustrates.

"Ingrain proactive service into your department," writes Thompson. "Make it a priority to identify problems before the users do and encourage staff to suggest uses of technology to their users instead of waiting for requests and fending them off."

Begin with the end in Mind. Create a department vision that reflects the goals for your organization. However, beware of "IT goals," Thompson says.

"The goal of your business intelligence strategy should not be to 'build a data warehouse,' but rather to 'improve financial performance' or 'improve clinical quality' or 'reduce readmissions.' Focus on producing value, not capability. And plan two or three years out; do not get swallowed by today's operational problems."

CIOs contacted by FierceHealthIT after the recent Supreme Court ruling saw it as reinforcing the importance of technology in healthcare. Those at a Health Technology Transformation (iHT2) summit this summer also discussed how Meaningful Use can be a springboard for innovation.

Cleveland Clinic, for one, has embraced technology as a "fundamental enabler" of new care delivery models and disease management through a suite of new platforms for patients and physicians alike. That leadership can only enhance the system's reputation and by extension, that of its CIO, Martin Harris, M.D.

To learn more:
- read the full iHealthBeat post

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