Healthcare IT is in fierce flux, it’s evolving and at lightning speed and losing track isn’t something you can afford at this moment unless you want many fingers to be pointed at you for being the culprit of hefty penalties and lost incentives within a couple of years from now. Two years is very little time to straighten things out in a hospital IT environment and yet alone if you are responsible for an Integrated Delivery Network (IDN). Career switching isn’t a sound option during these times so you definitely need all the advice you can get!
If you are a Chief Information Officer (CIO) or a Chief Information Technology Officer (CTO) there are a minimum of five things that you must be on top of:
1. Follow “Meaningful Use”: “Meaningful Use” criteria will definitely have an impact on your application environment and your technology infrastructure. You will have to comply if you want your organization to receive the incentives and avoid the penalties. Inpatient settings will have viable options with the new criteria that is being defined.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services maintains a website named Health IT and here you will find quick links to both the HIT Standards Committee and the HIT Policy Committee and both are responsible for the definition of “Meaningful Use“. On this blog I have also placed a special page named EHR Meaningful Use with all the links you will need to visit from time to time for your convenience. The HIT Committees also publish their agendas and their respective documents regarding their advances at their HHS website.
2. Follow CCHIT: CCHIT is defining several different processes for certification that aligns with “Meaningful Use”. The 2 newer ones named EHR-M and EHR-S can apply to one or several of your scenarios. Read the blog I posted titled “Midwest Interoperability Crusade, HL7 CCOW, EMPI, and Single Sign-On (SSO)“ on July 1st, 2009, this will give you one of many possible scenarios to ponder on.
3. Follow the Standards and Harmonization Initiatives: Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) and the Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel(HITSP) harmonization initiatives will evolve drastically in order to define profiles based on use cases that will be spawned by the “Meaningful Use” definitions. HL7 will most likely become very active since this standard will maintain its stronghold in the interoperability domain. There is no way new standards can emerge in the near future. Standards take time to develop and you can’t catch up with a 20+ year endeavor that easily. I don’t expect DICOM to change too much and probably if it does it will be aimed towards goals for the year 2015 or beyond.
4. Form a Team to Monitor Events and Trends: Everything that is occurring is almost impossible to be tracked on your own, unless you have the superhuman attributes that Dr. John Halamka, CIO of Harvard Medical School, has. But then, if that is the case you wouldn’t be reading this since you don’t need any advice. Forming a team where each member is assigned a different activity to monitor is a vital step. One member of the team may monitor “Meaningful Use” events while another one monitors what’s going on with CCHIT and yet another may follow HITSP and IHE and the standard developing organizations such as: Health Level Seven (HL7) and the Accredited Standards Committee (ASC X12). How you organize your team is up to you but do make sure that you keep informed of trends that may impact your objectives.
5. Follow the blogs: There are great blogs out there that are constantly being updated with valuable information of what is going on in the Health IT domain.
Dr. John Halamka constantly posts information regarding the policy committees on his blog space named Life as a Healthcare CIO. He is Chairman of HITSP and Co-Chair of the Healthcare Standards Committee. You can’t get any closer to the inside scoop! The Health Care Blog (THCB) is also a very popular and a highly commented space. Here you can find health care thought leaders, such as Dr. David Kibbe, posting their blogs, comments, and also interacting with other commentators. Dr. David Kibbe has his own blog named Kibbe and Klepper on Health Care that he shares with Dr. Brian Klepper another healthcare IT thought leader. Brian Ahier is a healthcare IT blogger and also a twitterer that is really on top of things and his space can be found here: Brian Ahier – Healthcare IT. If you don’t have time to go to all of them then you should visit this last one. And don’t forget to come back to my humble blog where you received all this free advice!
Thanks for reading!
Coming soon: 5 More Things a Healthcare CIO Must do ASAP