Clinicians and IT haven’t always collaborated on technology solutions. Many electronic health record initiatives were driven by the IT function, leaving clinicians with complex workflows, more work, and siloed data. Fortunately, many leaders recognize the need for change and are putting clinicians in the driver’s seat when it comes to IT decisions.
Clinical leaders move into the driver seat for IT decisions
By Heather Haugen PhD, Vice President Healthcare Advisory and Innovation, NTT
In 2014, about 40% of healthcare organizations had a clinical IT leader, typically a chief medical information officer (CIMO). By 2017, that number had risen to 71% and continues to climb. The CMIO often serves as a bridge between clinicians and IT leadership, allowing both to be successful by engaging the right stakeholders in decisions that influence patient outcomes. This structure builds rapport among these important stakeholders and accelerates strategic transformation across the organization.
In the U.S., the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act has resulted in the rapid acceleration of electronic healthcare systems with the number of organizations using EHRs rising from 16% to 96% over the past decade. While these numbers are impressive, the stumbling block has often been the adoption of these systems. Slow adoption means that the very outcomes that these systems were supposed to drive – improved quality and access, and reduced costs – are diminished.
Organizations that have been successful in driving positive outcomes through the adoption of technology have a few things in common.
The first is a strong commitment to organizational change management. By understanding workflow and processes, we can communicate better and ensure that everyone gets the appropriate training.
A good example of this is the work we’ve done with one large hospital. Their nurses were slowed down by network access in several locations in the hospital. They couldn’t document care or order medications in some rooms which delayed entry of orders and ultimately impacted patient care and led to a lot of frustration and rework by clinicians. Just solving the network connectivity problem saves time, improves patient outcomes (even shortening length of stay) and improves the clinician experience.
Hospitals that better leverage the data they have available are also seeing an improvement in patient outcomes.
We are working with a large children’s hospital to use their data to improve business processes, increase access to care and decrease wait times, turning data into information and actionable interventions. The community benefits when healthcare organizations can be proactive and prevent illnesses. For example, by tracking spikes in flu cases in their area they were able to launch vaccination drives and awareness programs in key locations to reduce its spread.
One key area where we have seen a remarkable difference is in the emergence of using data more strategically to benefit the community and population. The working partnership between the chief information officer and the CIMO is transformative. When the CIMO – someone with both medical and IT training – partners with the CIO, the full technology ecosystem inside a healthcare organization works to better serve patients and their families, something that translates directly into improved outcomes.
IT is critical to the future of healthcare, but it’s the clinical outcomes making a difference in the lives of patients that needs to be our priority. If we hope to achieve this, we must continue to bring clinical leaders, business leaders and IT leaders together.
Learn more about how technology can help you bridge the gap between technology and improved patient outcomes.
Through technology and innovation, NTT delivers a secure and connected future that empowers people, clients and communities. With revenues of over USD 10 billion, NTT is an IT infrastructure and services company and part of the global NTT corporation.