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Business Matters

The Next Big IT Challenge

07.01.11 by Matthew Weinstock H&HN Assistant Managing Editor

The evolution to value-based purchasing, bundled payments and accountable care, along with the emphasis on cost cutting, will force CIOs to reenvision their overall IT networks. But don't take my word for it.

The sad reality of publishing is that we are allotted a finite number of pages that contain a finite number of words to tell stories that have infinite possibilities.

Take this month's cover story on our 13th annual Most Wired Survey. For as poetic as it is (can you guess who wrote it?), there was only so much we could squeeze into 12 pages, some 2,500 words and a handful of charts. Granted, that's 2,360 more words than you are used to reading on our Twitter feeds, but nowhere near enough to detail how hospitals are using IT to improve quality and safety, gain efficiencies in business practices and build secure infrastructures. We'd barely scratch the surface if we dedicated all 66 pages to complete coverage of Most Wired hospitals.

In the face of this dilemma, we had to make hard choices on what made it into the article and what didn't. A lot of good stuff ended up on the cutting-room floor. Beyond conducting 10 phone interviews with CIOs and others, we sent an additional questionnaire to officials at every hospital on the Most Wired lists. We received a lot of great feedback. I was particularly interested to know what CIOs are thinking when it comes to IT and the shifting reimbursement model. The evolution to value-based purchasing, bundled payments and accountable care, along with the emphasis on cost cutting, will force CIOs to reenvision their overall IT networks. But don't take my word for it.

"We in IT are going to have to figure out how to integrate the revenue-cycle systems with clinical platforms in order to better align clinical activities with expected reimbursement. In addition, we are going to have to help our organizations integrate externally with other providers. Most of us don't yet understand exactly how that is going to work, so IT has a wonderful opportunity to be at the table to help figure out one of the greatest challenges we face today and in the near term."—David L. Miller, vice chancellor and CIO, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

"I think the biggest challenge we will see is to managing the 'big data' that is going to be generated across the continuum of care, especially when care providers have disparate systems, and standards still do not exist to ensure that information transferred between unrelated organizations is 'normalized' to tell the whole story about the patient's episode of care from beginning to end."Kerra L. Guffey, CIO, Meriter Health Services

"One of the greatest opportunities for organizations to thrive, will be through the use of powerful analytics—harvesting, analyzing and 'operationalizing' the data now available through EMRs and other systems, in more immediate, localized and meaningful ways. And because we are moving toward increased provider, patient and family accountability, connecting our providers, patients and families through customizable portals and personal health records will be increasingly important strategies for us."—Mary Anne Leach, vice president and CIO, The Children's Hospital

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The opinions expressed by authors do not necessarily reflect the policy of Health Forum Inc. or the American Hospital Association