IT for Healthcare

Theresa Meadows, SVP & CIO, Cook Children's Health Care System
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Theresa Meadows, SVP & CIO, Cook Children's Health Care System

Challenges in technology to meet enterprise needs in 2013 and expectations

The biggest challenge in healthcare technology for 2013 is the ability to adapt quickly to the ever changing needs of our environment. Traditional healthcare applications and infrastructure do not lend themselves to rapid change. The siloed nature of the data architecture does not lend itself to efficient data sharing or collaboration. As the need to manage care inside and outside the hospital grows, our technology needs to adapt with it. We need the ability to provide the right information, for the right person, at the right time, in the right setting of care. This will improve our quality of care delivery and our patient’s experience.

The areas in business environment where solutions do not yet exist or not upto the mark, and which if existed, would've made job easier

Healthcare IT is a very complex animal. Much of my time is spent preparing for regulatory requirements that are driven by outside entities. These include Meaningful Use, ICD-10 conversions, accountable care organizations and many others. Although these are very important initiatives, there are 2 things that keep me awake at night – loss of innovation and employee retention. I am concerned that with all the focus on regulatory issues the IT organization will lose the innovative edge which will be needed to remain competitive. We must have a small amount of time dedicated to innovation or we will find ourselves behind our competitors. Healthcare IT resources are a hot commodity. There is a great amount of competition to retain resources. We are in a time of great change within healthcare IT and staff burnout is a common occurrence. Finding creative ways to retain employees is a number one priority.

Technology trends impacting enterprise business environment

Mobile and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) are going to have the biggest impact on healthcare IT. Today’s consumers have an expectation that everything can be done from a mobile device. Interacting with a healthcare institution should be as easy as booking a flight on an airline or paying a bill online. To allow us to accomplish this all the appropriate underlying infrastructure must be in place. This includes development of applications, management of “big data”, appropriate security and networking/wireless infrastructure. Mobile healthcare with the ability to pay a bill, schedule an appointment, communicate with your doctor, and see critical healthcare information is the next frontier.

My roles and responsibilities as a CIO

In healthcare, the CIO’s focus has become less about technology and more about the business and the business process. Much of my time is spent discussing business problems and how technology can improve the problem. We are seen as a critical part of the organization and not just responsible for the plumbing. Understanding the business is critical to our success.

Lessons learned as a CIO

I know this sounds cliché but ongoing communication with peers about the technology direction is critical to success. If your peers cannot speak to the direction, you have not done your job. In my organization, we start each steering meeting with an overview of technology goals, so we have that as a foundation for the discussion. This allows us to make the right decision based on the needs of the organization.

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