Why hospital CIOs must carve out time for innovation

Healthcare leaders tend to get bogged down in the day-to-day, while "finding time for innovation amidst the swirl of must-do projects can be a challenge," writes John Halamka, chief information officer at Boston-based Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, in a recent blog post.

Yet he urges taking a long-term view in the quest for tools that will increase productivity and, ideally, can be used in multiple ways, so as not to create niche systems.

He points to a number of areas where innovation might be found, including:

  • Cloud storage: How can workers be given access to files while still ensuring privacy?
  • Social media: What kinds of collaboration tools will help support their work lives?
  • Patient-generated data: How can data, such as that from HealthKit and patient-generated information, be incorporated into clinical care?

Halamka, who also serves on FierceHealthIT's Editorial Advisory Board, urges working closely with compliance and legal colleagues to balance risk and benefits. Though innovation involves some risk, that risk can be mitigated, he says.

"Often organizations focus on the short term--the tyranny of the urgent. Carving out time for innovation with a long-term view is necessary to create true breakthroughs," he says.

An athenahealth survey found that healthcare leaders realize the need for disruption from within. They said the company they most admire is Apple, which has a history of disruption from within as a means of innovation.

Meanwhile, some medical schools are turning to technology to prepare doctors for innovation.

"The reality is that most medical schools are teaching the same way they did one-hundred years ago," Wyatt Decker, chief executive of the Mayo Clinic's operations in Arizona, told The Wall Street Journal. "It's time to blow up that model and ask, 'How do we want to train tomorrow's doctors?'"

President Barack Obama's Precision Medicine Initiative will call for an array of policies and technologies yet to be created, but it envisions a system for generating knowledge about a range of diseases that can be used to individualize care, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins writes this week in The New England Journal of Medicine.

To learn more:
- read Halamka's blog post

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