The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives officially opened its annual three-day CIO fall forum in San Antonio on Wednesday after concluding a few pre-conference activities that included fun—golf, sight-seeing along the city's famed riverwalk and a paintball battle—as well as a education, notably a three-day CIO boot camp.
CHIME greeted with strong turnout
“The turnout right now is looking to be a record for us,” said Keith Fraidenburg, vice president of the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based professional association for CIO and other health IT executives. “We're expecting 700 attending this year.” That's up from about 650 attendees last year. There were 54 “boot camp” recruits, not a record, but “one of the largest ever groups,” he said.
The big challenges ahead for the healthcare industry—accountable care, meaningful use and particularly, the looming, industrywide conversion to the International Classification of Diseases 10th Revision family of diagnostic and procedural codes—are all on the worry beads of CHIME members.
“I think from this year to last year, CIOs were holding out hope that it (ICD-10) will be delayed,” Fraidenburg said. “Nobody is expecting that any more. They're going to have to get the work done and it's a tough burden right now. They have a lot on their plate.”
And whether there will be sufficient IT staff available to do it remains an open question, Fraidenburg said. Retaining IT talent has been a “hot stove” issue among members for the past year or so, he said.
“It's of great concern for a lot of our CIOs, hanging on to the best staff,” he said. And with consultants and large, big-city hospitals on the prowl for talent, a community hospital CIO “can't do it with money. They have to do it in other ways. They're looking at strategies they never looked at before.”
For example, Fraidenburg said a boot camp attendee “shared that she has a lot of talented people on her IT team (who) wanted to go home early on Friday afternoons to go surfing. She's going to let them go surfing, but make sure they work awfully darn hard from Monday to Friday noon.”
David Muntz, a member of the CHIME board member and of the boot camp faculty, said creating a balance between life and work is one of the seven success factors taught at the boot camp. Muntz is a senior vice president and CIO at Baylor Health Care System in Dallas.
Achieving balance means delegating real authority to subordinates, which also helps promote continuity and stability within an organization.
“I think that succession planning is critical for making sure the next set of leaders comes on line,” Muntz said. “What you need to do as a leader is give responsibility for some very substantial activities to the next leader and make sure they do the same thing to the next leader. The question is how quickly can you push some very key responsibilities down the line and make sure the work is being done.”
Muntz said the CIO serves as “a clutch plate” between two industries, healthcare and technology, synchronizing rapidly accelerating changes occurring in both, which he calls the increasing “hecticity” of the job.
Perhaps the biggest challenge CIOs face will be to adapt healthcare IT to the world of “big data,” now used in real time by customer service organizations such as Amazon. A big data environment creates the personal profiles and aggregated data analysis seen when a customer buys one book, and the Amazon system suggests that customers who enjoyed reading it also tended to enjoy several others products.
“What we're talking about is a different model than what we have now,” he said. The analog in healthcare is a system that provides patient-centric data from retail pharmacies, multiple providers—affiliated and unaffiliated—and home health appliances and systems and compares it with aggregate population data, all within the clinical workflow.
“Very few people that I'm aware of have actually figured out how to do it in real time on the scale that I'm thinking of,” Muntz said. “But there are tools in every one of those places that allow us to do that.”
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