John Halamka: 2014 priority for hospital CIOs must be 'institutional survival'

While hospital CIOs will be forced to make some tough, unpopular decisions that focus primarily on government mandates in the coming fiscal year, those actions will serve to ensure the viability of their facilities, John Halamka, CIO at Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, writes in a new post to his Life As A Healthcare CIO blog this week.

Halamka, a FierceHealthIT Editorial Advisory Board member, jokes that, by centering his attention on four particular government efforts--the transition to ICD-10, Meaningful Use Stage 2, HIPAA compliance and the Affordable Care Act--his "waning popularity" will fade even more. To that end, however, he says that's a sacrifice he's willing to make if it means the institution will benefit.

It "sounds like the right long-term strategy, but certainly will require strength of will, a thick skin and constant communication," he says.

By focusing on "institutional survival," departmental needs are very likely to go unmet, Halamka says. For instance, he calls ICD-10 "bigger than Y2K for healthcare," and tells CIOs to assume that the transition "will consume a majority of ... IT resources for the next year."

"In the past, I've been able to achieve reasonable levels of popularity through rapid innovation and responsive agile application development, often delivering discretionary projects to individual departments," Halamka says. "As I navigate FY14 ... it's clear that I cannot deliver any discretionary projects."

In a similar post last month, Halamka said that regulatory uncertainty and a continuing decline in available resources will loom large for hospital CIOs in the coming year.

"The ability of provider organizations to maintain operations while implementing all the new regulatory requirements in parallel is straining healthcare operations to their limits," he said. "Safety, quality and efficiency innovations are no longer possible because regulatory requirements have consumed all available resources."

To learn more:
- read Halamka's post

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