Slideshow CIOs Offer 7 Tips to Optimize EHRs and HIT

  • September 16 2015, 8:05pm EDT
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CIOs Offer 7 Tips to Optimize EHRs and HIT

Earlier this year, 13 healthcare CIOs convened to discuss the challenges and opportunities of optimizing health information technology systems. They came up with seven takeaways for success in the session that Scottsdale Institute and Impact Advisors sponsored.

The Players

Participating CIOs included Mark Barner (Ascension), Dr. Dave Bensema (Baptist Health Kentucky), John Delano (Integris Health), Robert Eardley (Houston Methodist), John Manis (Sutter Health), Lee Marley (Presbyterian Healthcare Services) and Patrick O’Hare (Spectrum Health).

Also on the panel were Marcus Shipley (Trinity Health), Bruce Smith (Advocate Health Care), Alan Soderblom (Adventist Health), Bill Spooner (Sharp Healthcare – retired), Richard Shirey (Hartford Healthcare) and Jim Veline (Avera Health). (Photo: Fotolia)

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1. Involve senior leadership in creating a definition of optimization.

When it comes to healthcare IT optimization, perhaps no one step is more important than getting the entire leadership team on the same page to create an organization-specific definition of optimization. While completing this first step is not a guarantee of success, leaving it undone will almost certainly lead to failure. (Photo: Fotolia)

2. Prioritize optimization based on vision and strategic priorities.

When optimization projects are aligned with the organization’s strategic priorities, two benefits are achieved. The optimization project has more support and energy behind it to achieve success, and the organization is driven forward toward its strategic goals by the outcomes of the optimization project. (Photo: Fotolia)

3. Know the difference between increased adoption and optimization.

With any implementation, there’s an inherent need to develop methods to increase adoption of the current build with training and support. That’s different than what needs to be done to optimize workflows or the information technology build. What it means, said Shirey of Hartford Healthcare, is “We need to do a better job of helping them understand what they need vs. what they want.” Once a training or support need is identified, move quickly to fill the need and continuously work toward increased adoption. Strive to only have items on your enhancement request that require build. (Photo: Fotolia)

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4. Create multi-disciplinary teams to maximize optimization efforts.

Multi-disciplinary teams – with members from operations, IT and performance improvement – assess current workflows, do root cause analysis, create future state workflows and assess what new or enhanced IT build is necessary. After IT completes the enhanced build to support new workflows, operations and IT should work together to integrate the build and workflows into the production environment. (Photo: Fotolia)

5. Develop effective methods for rolling out optimizations rapidly.

This is yet another area that will require a close working relationship between operations and IT. The need to roll out changes quickly is another way to build impetus behind standardizing processes and build, but getting there will take patience and persistence. (Photo: Fotolia)

6. Monitor changes in healthcare, develop the ability to be agile and flexible.

The healthcare industry is likely to see unprecedented levels of change during the next few years. CIOs will need to keep abreast of changes and prepare their teams to be able to turn on a dime. (Photo: Fotolia)

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7. Develop key performance indicators to measure optimization efforts.

Healthcare is just starting efforts toward optimization of IT, particularly EHR systems. Organizations must measure outcomes to assess the success of optimization projects and to apply performance improvement techniques so that the organization is able to continuously improve. (Photo: Fotolia)


David Bensema noted that optimized IT should minimize the intrusion and impedance of the system to patient care workflows. Robert Eardley said, “IT is a platform for operations. We enable the workflow. There are few processes left that aren’t electronic. Supporting the work is our real business. Technology hardware is only 25 percent of what we do.” (Photo: Fotolia)