Under pressure: Most hospital CIOs have knowingly launched error-filled projects

A majority of hospital CIOs said they have felt pressure at one time or another to continue launching a project that was not ready for go live, according to new survey results published this week to healthsystemCIO.com.

Overall, 85 percent of respondents from healthsystemCIO.com's advisory panel said they had been involved in such a situation, while 71 percent of respondents said they had been involved with an effort that failed or stumbled right off the bat. HealthsystemCIO.com's advisory panel comprises 249 hospital IT executives.

One responding CIO said that when going through such a situation, pressure had been initiated from the top due to promises made to the hospital's board and medical staff. "It was not a 'failure,' but we knew exactly what issue existed that could have been avoided with another 30 days," the CIO said. "We spent the next year recovering from the user backlash."

Another responding CIO commented that Meaningful Use continues to make this happen, year after year.

The impetus for the survey was the much maligned launch of the HealthCare.gov website; to that end, 57 percent of respondents said they were not surprised the go-live occurred, as officials were under a tremendous amount of pressure to meet a promised deadline. One CIO said that "a call to Amazon or Google" could have helped ensure a timely and less expensive launch. "Governments tend to try and recreate the wheel when it comes to IT projects," the CIO said.

Former National Coordinator for Health IT David Blumenthal, who now serves as president of The Commonwealth Fund, recently wrote that the federal government's broken IT procurement process was a major reason for the problems associated with the launch.

Internal emails recently made public by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee revealed that federal officials had been skeptical about the site's rollout months prior to launch. In one late September email, Henry Chao, deputy CIO at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said that he could envision "all the major print and online publications taking screen shots of [information shared] and ramping up the hyperbole about hc.gov not [being] functional."

To learn more:
- here's the healthsystemCIO.com survey
- read the emails about HealthCare.gov