Best-of-breed functionality cannot outweigh the urgency to maintain a portfolio of certified applications that provide CMS-prescribed functionality. No department head can justify a niche purchase that demonstrates a return of an investment that outweighs forfeiting incentives and avoiding reimbursement penalties. Department heads now have to either shift workflow or document in multiple systems. This is a painful transition.
Likewise, vendors and consultants promoting their expertise in creating applications from the ground up, workflow support in nonclinical areas without significant return, needs assessment for new applications, niche applications and paper management systems are not getting in the health IT executive door. We as decisionmakers simply do not have the time to explain why we are no longer interested in learning about these offerings. These big shifts seem to be taking many vendors and some department directors by surprise.
With that said, it seems a bit schizophrenic to say to vendors in the next breath that we are also looking to leverage what we have. We are all working to get a firm grasp on what we have and how we are using it.
Still, we as providers wrestle with some disconnects in what we need and what we hear. For example, earlier this week, a vendor from an internationally recognized organization wanted to talk about how his company can create a statewide health information exchange, using the expertise they developed in a socialized country with a population smaller than the state of North Carolina. In Pennsylvania, we have numerous health systems, as well as regional, provider and ancillary service data exchanges. It is not reasonable to expect one vendor, with one solution, to replicate or replace the functionality we created and have in place in the required timeframes. It has taken years and millions of dollars to bring us this far, and we still have a significant way to go to exchange a minimal amount of desired data between competitors.
There seems to be growing vendor frustration with the difficulty in securing health IT executive attention, and likewise there's growing health IT executive frustration that vendors do not offer solutions but rather goods and services. We are no longer looking for vendors but rather partners to help us actualize our vision.
Rather than offer niche functionality or customization, help us create order sets and workflows using our current investments. Help us sort out the various health information exchange approaches to determine what makes the most sense for our health system in the current state, leveraging available offerings. Help us develop strategies that afford quick deployment and clinician adaption. Help us identify flexible, open architecture solutions that support our immediate and future requirements. Help us contract for these make-or-break investments. Help us ensure rock-solid security and privacy. Help us provide secure access from any patient device.
Health IT executives have too many time constraints to listen to vendors restate how experience in other industries is applicable to healthcare. Many vendors and consultants new to healthcare do not understand how health IT priorities and requirements are vastly different from other industries and even from healthcare in the pre-meaningful-use era. The tried-and-true sales approaches that reassure health IT executives that they can build custom applications, provide offshore programmers, manage documents, provide technology that will not disrupt clinician workflow are at polar opposites for health IT executives who are unapologetically moving as quickly as possible to standardize systems, become paperless and consciously disrupt current clinician workflow.
We are creating a new delivery system that brings down silos of information to present the right information at the right time to the right individuals. We are creating systems to empower clinicians, as well as patients and their families, by providing not only access to patient-specific information but also the ability to make sense of the trends and to enable proactive intervention.
The focus now is clearer than ever: Our priorities are to offer the most value to our community in every expenditure and action. We have to make wise decisions. We have to do it right the first time. To vendors and consultants who can help, our doors are open to you.
Chief information officerHoly Spirit Health SystemCamp Hill, Pa.