Craig Richardville sees an important distinction between patients and consumers, and that distinction will have an impact on how providers share information with them.

Richardville, senior vice president and CIO at Carolinas HealthCare System, already is adapting the way his organization is making information available to those it serves. It’s a radical change in philosophy for most healthcare organizations, he believes.

“What we’re seeing is many factors that have caused existing patients become consumers of healthcare services, and now becoming true consumers,” he says. “People expect to be more mobile in receiving their healthcare services. It becomes a very competitive environment, and it will be up to us (as providers) to give them the best value.”

Craig Richardville
Craig Richardville Getty Images

The winner of the 2015 John E. Gall Jr. CIO of the year award, Richardville was in Las Vegas last week to receive the honor, presented by both HIMSS and CHIME. He sees fellow CIOs and HIT executives ready to make the shift into the new age of healthcare, in which value will dictate how providers operate.

“I think we’re seeing CIOs and HIT executives truly transforming and becoming business leaders, focusing on patients as consumers, and using existing and new technology to drive the business,” he says. “We’re becoming a digital industry, no different than the financial services industry.”

Richardville noted that financial services have transitioned quickly in the digital age, changing the way that consumers interact with it and handle their financial transactions. He sees the same future ahead for healthcare.

“We’ve moved into delivering services, and for IT, the goals of the healthcare system become our goals,” he says. “We can take advantage of the tools that are in our industry to achieve those goals and initiatives.”

Carolinas HealthCare has been using technology to improve relationships with affiliated providers as well as patients. For example, patients are better engaged by giving them access to information through a single portal, now also accessible through a mobile app. They can see data from several different information systems and care venues, without having to sign in multiple times or feeling that they’re getting different views of their data.

“We’re very agnostic when it comes to technology,” he says. “We’re trying to build an open, transparent environment. We want to stay in touch with the patient and interact with them on a regular basis. We’re agnostic as to whether they’re using an IoS device or Android. As we’re executing on this, we’re starting to see success with managing the populations to which we have access.”

Richardville also has had opportunities to testify in Washington on HIT industry challenges, and he sees recent moves by vendors and providers on interoperability as an important step toward making progress on the goal.

“I’ve been on Capitol Hill a few times, and what we’re starting to see is more of a defined line of what will be done by the public sector in terms of creating policy; executing on that is up to us,” he says. “I’ve had Congressmen say to me, ‘Look, government is a decade behind where the industry is—you don’t want us setting standards for you. You need to help us understand the issues and draw the line for what public policy needs to be.’ “

The issue on interoperability is clear and simple, he says—“we don’t really want to compete on having data, but on how we use the data.”

Industry leaders need to return to what got them into healthcare in the first place, he advices. “It’s not about the money, just selling products like they do in the retail sector. What we’re doing is affecting people’s lives, and those of their family and friends in the community,” he concludes. “For me, it’s an honor to be a part of this industry.”

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