It’s an exciting time to be a part of the healthcare technology field, as the industry rapidly modernizes and explores how technology can be used to improve the delivery of care. CHIME Fall CIO Forum attendees echoed that excitement. Surrounded by some of the top health information technology (HIT) leaders, we discussed some of our successes, as well as outstanding challenges on our minds. Through my conversations, I was impressed in some regards on how much progress has been made at provider organizations since last year’s conference. For example, most of the CIOs I spoke to had made progress in implementing the cloud to help share information quickly and securely. Additionally, Hal Baker, VP and CIO of WellSpan, gave a strong presentation on how they’ve re-invented clinical documentation to coordinate CDI and coding efforts and deliver safer, more coordinated care.
However, there are still plenty of challenges and uncertainties ahead for CIOs. Outside of the normal industry buzz you hear at conferences, there were three questions that seemed to be on everyone’s mind:
- Are our systems secure? Everyone seems to be reeling from several recent high-profile data breaches at hospitals and health systems, affecting more than 30 million patients this year. Not only are the breaches causing fear and nervousness from patients, but they’ve also caused reputational damages to the organizations that were hacked. During the conference, there was a lot of debate and discussion on how health systems can make sure their own security posture is up to standards, especially when they are strapped for revenue and resources. Former White House CIO Theresa Payton said, “You have to reach the realization that all technology is hackable.” No wonder cybersecurity is an issue that everyone is taking very seriously. I’m sure this theme will continue as CHIME’s Association for Executives in Healthcare Information Security (AEHIS) ramps up their efforts to educate health leaders on what’s needed to secure their networks and data.
- What’s happening at the ONC? Karen DeSalvo’s recent – and swift—exit from The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology was startling enough for the industry, but news that Deputy National Coordinator for Health IT Jacob Reider would also be departing later this month led to more urgent conversations. Health IT leaders are wondering what the staffing changes at the ONC will mean for the industry and their organizations’ strategies for meeting regulatory requirements.
- What basic ingredients am I missing? One of the highlights of the CHIME conference was the incredible keynote from Peter Diamandis, Chairman and CEO of XPRIZE on how our industry is poised to begin to use technologies like robotics to transform the way we deliver patient care. But at the same time, I heard first-hand from many CIOs who are still struggling with infrastructure challenges and regulatory hurdles that have hijacked their agendas. While the CHIME conference is a great place to discuss forward-looking technologies and interoperability in the future, some CIOs are wisely asking themselves what basics they’re missing today – like accurate patient identification which is hindering interoperability efforts and comprehensive clinical documentation processes — before jumping head-first into robotics.