CIOs have high hopes for 2013

Clarity, interoperability, patience, wisdom among many desires

As healthcare CIOs across the country consider the year ahead, they seem optimistic that 2013 will end with significant progress on many fronts  -  putting the patient at the center of care, making the switch to ICD-10 smoothly, achieving interoperability, finding clarity  -  and world peace.

As healthcare CIOs across the country consider the year ahead, they seem optimistic that 2013 will end with significant progress on many fronts  -  putting the patient at the center of care, making the switch to ICD-10 smoothly, achieving interoperability, finding clarity  -  and world peace.

Paul Tang, MD, vice president, chief innovation and technology officer at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation in California, also serves on the federal Health IT Policy Committee that advises the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 

In his view the HITECH Act has been an invaluable catalyst for providers to focus on implementing essential information tools that are so important to making the right decisions related to individuals' health and healthcare.

"Building up to the 2014 inflection point in health reform," Tang says, "my hope is that we successfully leverage the tools being implemented in meaningful use and invent new ones that will help us do a much better job engaging patients in shared decision making and coordinating care amongst all participants on the health team. I'd like 2013-14 to be the turning point for patient-centered health."

When we caught up with William Spooner, CIO, of Sharp HealthCare in San Diego, he had just returned from eight days at his family's place in Tennessee, where he spent a chunk of time driving his big orange tractor, and thinking a little less about IT than he usually does.

"To use a term popular in D.C.," he says, "I wish that in 2013 we stop 'kicking the can down the road' as to patient identification," he said. 

Spooner is in favor of a national patient identifier to push data exchange forward. Though exchange is key to better and more cost-effective care, the accuracy of matching patient records is in the mid-to-upper 90 percent range at best, he says.   

"While politicians avoid a national identifier, I hope that we effectively deal with patient identification before we seriously harm any of those in the last 5 percent due to incomplete or incorrect patient records," Spooner adds.

George Hickman, executive vice president and CIO at Albany Medical Center in New York, has three wishes: a smooth transition to ICD-10, with no one seeing revenue loss; more easily understood Stage 2 meaningful use requirements than experienced in Stage 1; and clarity regarding business and clinical priorities. 

Oh, he has a fourth lofty wish: world peace.

Charles Christian, CIO of Vincennes, Ind.-based Good Samaritan Hospital, understands Hickman's desire for clarity.

"Clarity is something that is on my wish list and has been for some time," he says. 

He wants clarity around how best to introduce technology in a clinical setting without putting it in the way of care processes and clarity about using technology to enhance the daily routines of the direct care team members.  

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