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Being a successful healthcare CIO requires vision

Brian Eastwood | March 19, 2014
Today's healthcare IT leaders have a lot on their plates. The rush to digitize is hitting them hard -- but one CIO says it's shortsighted to simply focus on technology itself, not on the fundamental industry changes that tech will bring.

'Let End Users Run the Show,' But Keep Executives Happy, Too
As healthcare tries to catch up, CIOs need to "let end users run the show." CEOs have the money, Rab says, but physicians and nurses have the power. They are the real decision-makers, he says, and they're the ones from whom you need buy-in.

"Let them yell and tell [you] the mistakes," Rab says. "You have to get to the power. You change the mind of the decision makers by manipulation or emotional blackmail."

You accomplish this, he says, by making them a central part of training. Hackensack did this when rolling out Imprivata OneSign single sign-on key tab technology. Actual training lasted but a few minutes, Rab says, with the remaining time devoted to real-world use cases emphasizing efficiency and accessibility benefits.

That said, healthcare CIOs must get executives on board when they have big technology plans. Rab's first two users of the SSO technology? The CEO and the CFO.

Many Sources of 'Wisdom' Poised to Power Predictive Analytics
Speaking of plans, Rab says healthcare organizations need to focus on "total connectivity." By and large, this means mobility, which physicians and patients alike are demanding.

Connectivity matters because EHR systems are far from the only source of wisdom available in a healthcare ecosystem. Hospitals, for example, get data from revenue cycle management, patient outcomes, wearable technology, payers, affiliated primary care physicians and, increasingly, health information exchange. Put it all together, Rab says, and you lay the foundation for healthcare big data analytics.

This matters, too, as analytics is the backbone of the accountable care organization - the model of coordinated care and shared savings that's central to healthcare reform. Hackensack UMC is part of the larger Hackensack University Health Network ACO, which generated $10 million in Medicare savings in 2013.

Medicare reimbursements are "the easiest way to live" in healthcare today, Rab says, but healthcare reform and shifting care models will emphasize efficiency as the new way to live. Healthcare IT innovations such as streamlined appointment scheduling, SSO technology for clinical systems and a rentable cloud-based EHR systems that complete the "circle of information" will standardize and modernize longstanding processes while lowering administrative costs.

Accomplishing this, Rab says, is "all about trust and then transparency." This, in turn, requires "possibilities, opportunities, relationships and behavior change," none of which will be accomplished overnight.

"This takes time," he says. "You need to stick around to make it happen.


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