Healthcare Business News
Dr. Harry Greenspun, senior adviser on healthcare transformation and technology with the Deloitte cente

Healthcare CIOs see even bigger challenges beyond meaningful use

By Joseph Conn
Posted: February 19, 2013 - 3:00 pm ET

Chief information officers in healthcare are caught between their immediate concerns and the unknown challenges of future healthcare payment reforms, but without all the information they'll need to steer their course.

Consultants with the Deloitte Center for Healthcare Solutions summarize the findings of interviews with a dozen CIOs of major healthcare systems in a just-released, 11-page white paper, “Health System Chief Information Officers: Juggling Responsibilities, Managing Expectations, Building the Future.”

Their multiple duties range from the “urgency and necessity of implementing ICD-10 and meaningful use” to finding or developing the talents needed to “to structure and manage data, synthesize it as useful information and support decisionmaking at every level of the organization” in an era of accountable care, patient-centered medical homes and other payment reforms.

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These IT leaders are prepared to stay the course on Stage 2 of meaningful use, which, for hospitals with two or three years at Stage 1 under their belts, begins Oct. 1, according to report co-author Dr. Harry Greenspun, senior adviser on healthcare transformation and technology with the Deloitte center.

“I don't think any of them thought changing the timetable of meaningful use, given what they have to do, is going to dramatically change the amount of work they have ahead of them,” Greenspun said.

For all of their immediate challenges, CIOs say the bigger issues will be with future payment reforms—accountable care and others—based on outcomes and assuming risk.

“They're seeing it with private payers, state or even employers, saying this is where we want to go,” Greenspun said. “It is a significant retooling. They have to be 'payeresque,' and this is new stuff for them. They've got big gaps in their skills sets. It's going to require attaining new skills, bringing in new people.”

“The big discussion was around innovation,” Greenspun said. “All of them, they know what their needs are, but they're not really sure who can help them with that and what innovative solutions are out there to help them.”

Vendors are touting their wares, Greenspun said, but with new companies or new products, the question is, “whether they're going to be around in a couple of years.”

“All of them, I think, have a very clear vision,” said Greenspun, who preferred the analogy of American pioneers. “They're walking across the plains and can see the mountains in front of them. They know they're going to have to climb them, but they're not really sure what they're going to face.”

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