One I often refer to is the American College of Healthcare Executives' annual listing of top concerns. I constantly challenge my peers to be honest with themselves about how well they know their CEOs' pain points. I do this by asking them to name the top concerns of their hospital leadership. In my experience, few of them can list more than three, indicating to me that they just aren't aware of these key issues.
For the record, here are some of the top issues for 2012, compared with those from 2011, according to the ACHE poll, which was limited to CEOs of community hospitals (i.e., nonfederal, short-term, nonspecialty hospitals). The average rank given to each issue was used to place issues in order of concern to hospital CEOs, with the lowest numbers indicating the highest concerns.
The top CEO concern continues to be financial challenges, with an average point total of 2.5 in 2012 (on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the biggest concern), unchanged from 2011. The second biggest concern in 2012 was patient safety and quality, with a rank of 4.4, compared with 4.6 in 2011. Healthcare reform implementation was ranked as the third top concern of CEOs in 2012, with an average of 4.7, compared with 4.5 in 2011.
Other top concerns identified in the 2012 ACHE survey, and their rankings, were governmental mandates, 5.0; care for the uninsured, 5.6; patient satisfaction, also 5.6; physician-hospital relations, 5.8; technology, 7.6; population health management, 7.9; personnel shortages, 8.0; and creating accountable care organizations, 8.6.
To truly assist the CEO in meeting each challenge, IT must work hand in glove with the business side to offer solutions that transform current approaches to overcome obstacles. As I read the topics on the list above, numerous possibilities come to mind, stirring excitement. The adventure begins. We set meetings with the appropriate operational leadership and further explore possible solutions. For those that show promise, we prioritize, fund and execute.
IT can sit back all day and pump out transactional solutions that may be helpful (more often not), but never reach the department's full potential. Solutions worth implementing present themselves only when IT and the business staff mutually engage one another.
I recall one time when our IT department thought we hit a home run with our approach to training. Actually, it proved to be a creative solution, but it was like hitting a single—politely appreciated by the users, but there was a still a sense that our solution had solved the problem. Not until we engaged the operations side (clinicians in particular) did we develop an innovative training approach that helped us successfully implement electronic health records in both the inpatient and outpatient setting. That organization-wide impact was transformational. A home run. Cheers.
Hitting a home run happens when IT understands the challenges facing operations and then fully engages—and when operations fully embrace IT. Collaboration occurs. Alignment becomes automatic. Transformation takes place. It's a winning season.
Thank you, Achilles.
Edward Marx Senior vice president, chief information officerTexas Health ResourcesArlington, Texas