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Apr 11 2013   12:44PM GMT

Pressing issues can cause heartburn for healthcare CIOs

Posted by: Jenny Laurello
BYOD, CIO, clinical decision support, HIPAA, HIPAA policy, ICD-10, identity management, Meaningful use, meaningful use stage 2, MU, MU stage 2, Stage 2

Guest post by Ruby Raley, director of healthcare solutions, Axway

Provider and payer CIOs must prepare for a number of pressing issues in 2013 and 2014, including:

  • HIPAA compliance
  • Bring your own device (BYOD)
  • Big data for clinical decision support and analytics
  • Meaningful use stage 2
  • CAQH CORE Operating Rules and the move to real-time connectivity
  • ICD-10 conversion

Each item here has the potential to become a large-scale strategic exercise for any CIO and their department, though it isn’t a complete list. That prospect that should make all CIOs ask themselves, “Exactly how many of these exercises can my people handle in 2013 and 2014?”

A CIO’s initial reaction to that question might be to simply address the most feasible items on the list — a strategy I expect most CIOs will have trouble executing, as all of the items are critically important.

This means they’ll have to face an even more daunting prospect: Addressing all of these items simultaneously, regardless of budget or time constraints. They’ll have to resort to a previous method they’ve had success with, and deploy solutions that:

  • Don’t conflict with their need to protect healthcare records
  • Align with their clinical and back-shop revenue-cycle-management workflows, teams, and individual users
  • Correspond with their HIPAA security policy
  • Offer some productivity advantage over the status quo (to encourage end user adoption)

CIOs will be challenged to:

  • Increase the efficiency and effectiveness of internal support roles
  • Cost-effectively deliver superior access and service to those outside the organization (e.g. customers, colleagues, and end users)
  • Deploy more of the enterprise’s systems on mobile devices for those inside the organization (e.g. physicians, nurses, care coordinators, and claims processors)

When addressing all of the pressing items on the first list above, will CIOs give their in-house health IT professionals the same quality of tools and solutions? CIOs must recognize that while clinicians inarguably do the most important work (patient care), IT professionals and those in supporting roles enable clinicians to do that work well.

Here are three points CIOs should consider in order to ensure they’ve got everyone covered.

1. Self-provisioning solutions

Solutions that facilitate connecting applications, partners, and mobile devices — both inside and outside the organization — go a long way to reducing our team’s process-management workload. Organizations should take advantage of these tools because they increase customer satisfaction and speed time-to-value for the key applications we need to deploy.

2. Policy management

Simply bolting applications, especially mobile and cloud applications, onto your infrastructure creates a security nightmare, as the healthcare industry is replete with transient workers, ever-changing security rules, and patients moving throughout its networks. Middleware and identity management tools that offer centralized management consoles are essential here, as they reduce the time it takes to: Deploy an application in the cloud or on a mobile device, align a patient portal with your enterprise capability, and create the common structure that enables you to authenticate and validate the roles of users, like physicians and clinicians who work remotely.

3. Governance

Many downstream systems can be adversely impacted if something goes wrong with a legacy system (e.g. a data breach due to improper redaction). Smart monitoring tools that identify potential mishaps empower health IT professionals to reduce the time it takes to resolve those mishaps.

There’s no latitude for picking and choosing — all of the 2013 and 2014 pressing items must be addressed, regardless of whether the CIO’s people have the time to address them. Any CIO who tackles these items without considering how self-provisioning solutions, policy management, and governance will impact their teams’ chances for success will miss the opportunity to focus their teams’ efforts and make short work of these items.

But a CIO who recognizes these three points cut to the heart of the pressing items list actually stands to abbreviate the amount of effort required by their support teams, freeing them from the drudgery the list would normally demand. This provides them a chance to let their creativity and innovation serve the organization, rather than see it forfeited as they tackle tasks that don’t require their expertise.

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