Health care CIOs must be champions of information exchange

CIOs at a pre-HIMSS 2012 forum learned that information exchange is more than just federal HIE mandates. It's also a tool for getting clinical, administrative staff to cooperate.

LAS VEGAS -- Here, it's easy to think of "exchange" as the passing of money into the hands of the house coffers. But CIOs were treated to a few different other concepts of exchange during their forum at the Health Information and Management Systems Society's HIMSS 2012 conference.

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Beyond just being something that is required for federal initiatives, information exchange represents the transformational element that will propel the health care industry to a new level of care and patient engagement, according to presenters at the College of Healthcare Information Management Executive's CIO Spring Forum.

Data sitting in systems is only the first step of building an IT foundation in health care, according to Paul Grundy, M.D., president of the Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative. As the cheerleaders of information for organizations, CIOs have the responsibility of showing "there's some power under that data -- and you have to start using it."

Health information exchange powers the medical home

Grundy was talking about information exchange in the context of the patient-centered medical home, a model that's being trumpeted by the collaborative as a way to improve care and regulate costs while shifting from a fee-for-service reimbursement structure to one focused on outcomes and performance.

There's some power under that data -- and you have to start using it.

Paul Grundy, M.D., president, Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative

Showing data from several years of research, Grundy pointed to pilot projects across the country that have allowed providers to reduce hospital admissions, help patients manage chronic illnesses and decrease the use of emergency departments while maintaining their costs.

As the research has come out, the industry has taken notice and is considering how to align payments with performance, he said. "Now, after four years of pilots, the insurers are moving in the same direction."

Grundy said communication, as well as shifting the organizational culture, is how providers will be able to reengineer their practices. "It's thinking about having a population and managing it, and having the data to do it."

Inside that communication factor is another type of exchange -- getting all the people in an organization to cooperate. CIOs are in the information business, and they must figure out how to empower people to be part of and work with the network, said Ken Blanchard, cofounder of the Ken Blanchard Companies and visiting lecturer. "One of the best ways to excite people is to share information with them."

Let us know what you think about the story; email Jean DerGurahian, Executive Editor or contact @SearchHealthIT on Twitter.

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