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3 health IT leaders on takeaways from 2019 CHIME Fall CIO Forum

Healthcare CIOs said the struggle between innovation and keeping the lights on and developing tools for patient data were top of mind at the 2019 CHIME Fall CIO Forum.

PHOENIX -- The push to find a balance between innovation and keeping the lights on is at the top of healthcare CIOs' minds these days. And so is finding ways to make patient access to data easier. Those were two of the major themes from the 2019 CHIME Fall CIO Forum, an intimate conference for healthcare CIOs.  

For Everett Weiss, M.D., CMIO at the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, New York, hearing from others about the successes they've had with making patient data more accessible was eye-opening. He attended a session led by Colorado's UCHealth CIO Steve Hess and CMIO CT Lin, who detailed how they're making patient data more transparent, such as with their online price estimates for procedures and real-time benefits check for prescriptions.

"It highlights that the trend is there and this is what patients are wanting," Weiss said. "There is really an opportunity there to benefit patient care. And the impact on clinicians is minimal to none. In fact, there are a lot of digital champions that are doing this in organizations with strong leadership support."

The topic couldn't be timelier, as interoperability and information blocking rules from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT are currently under review by the Office of Management and Budget. Once published, the rules will dictate that health systems give patients greater access to their data through the use of APIs, or bits of code that can enable one system to talk to another.

One of the strategic pieces of advice Weiss keyed in on is the importance of getting leadership and physician buy-in when pursuing new IT projects, which can be achieved by showing the ROI on patient data access tools and telling patient stories.  

But not all CIOs at the CHIME Fall CIO Forum walked away with the same strategies as Weiss. Others focused on the push-pull between innovation and IT basics, a shift in how the community thinks about security and a call for transparency among executives. Here's a look at just a few of them.

Health IT leaders share takeaways from CHIME Fall CIO Forum

Franklin Rademacher

Vice president of IT, Trinity Health, Livonia, Michigan

Rademacher: The first is that we're all struggling with the same issues. Doesn't matter whether you're a large organization or a small organization, the issues are pretty much the same, which is that everybody wants IT to be a strategic partner. However, they also want you to keep the lights on and do all those basic things that we have to be really good at, and they're not willing to give people the time or the resources or the capital to be innovative. So, organizationally, we have to figure out how do we get together with groups like CHIME to help drive innovation without all of us having to go through the pain of innovating? That's really key.

Second: There hasn't been innovation around privacy. I think what patients and consumers of healthcare are going to have to realize is that they are responsible for their own data. They really aren't that way yet. They expect the doctor or the hospital or the healthcare system to do that for them, and they need to get educated and be responsible for doing that. Now, conversely, I've heard people say younger generations, millennials, they'll share everything with anybody. They don't understand that they should keep that information private. But maybe that's good. Maybe some of the information we're holding so dear and so private doesn't have to be, as long as you're sharing it in the right context and you know that the data is being used for what it's supposed to be used for.

Robin Parkin

Interim CITO, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, Virginia

Parkin: I think for me the biggest takeaways are recognizing that we have people who are leading the way and we don't have to reinvent everything ourselves and we need to leverage everything that everybody before us has already done. But we need to start to move quickly.

There is a big push to reduce friction, to make it easier for people to use our services and for us to be more engaged, less transactional and more of a partner in somebody's health. I think that is a direction that healthcare and healthcare IT have to go.

Ali Olia

Former CTO, BJC Healthcare, St. Louis

Olia: [Attendees' and speakers'] willingness and openness of sharing what's successful and what's not successful. At the end of the day we're talking about healthcare and impacting patient lives, and the more we can share, the more we'll all be successful in making a large impact in our community.

For me, what was helpful was reaffirmation of the journey and path I was taking my previous organization down. In the focus groups and sessions, others are doing the same thing. For me it was more confirmation that the way I was thinking about it is being thought about more broadly by others in the industry.

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