What are Health IT’s Brightest Minds Looking to Learn?

Nov. 6, 2017
Healthcare Informatics gathered an array of feedback from CIOs and other industry leaders about how they can share information and learn from their peers

Last week I was at the CHIME 2017 Fall CIO Forum, and for two days I spent a lot of time around some of the biggest and brightest minds in our industry. Every time I turned around, there was another CIO from a hospital or health system who had something interesting to say about how his or her organization was both evolving and struggling with technology.

Of course, CHIME’s forum isn’t alone in its ability to gather top health IT minds and have them collaborate in one place (be sure to check out our regional Health IT Summits!), but it serves as another example for the types of conversations and information sharing that could take place at events like this one. Throughout my time at the conference, I was able to speak to various industry experts, from CIOs to cybersecurity specialists to policy wonks to vendors, to get a sense of what they look to learn and share at these kinds of forums. Below are some of the noteworthy responses I gathered. 

Healthcare Informatics: What’s one thing you would love to learn from your fellow colleagues, or share with them, at a forum like this, being in the same space with so many of them for a few days?

Steve Hess, CIO, UCHealth (Aurora, Col.)

There’s always a couple pieces of gold that you find. I went to a cybersecurity presentation this morning [Nov. 1], and while the overall presentation is a lot of what we were already doing, there were pieces that you can take away and say “hey that’s really interesting.” Maybe we can take some of that and make what we’re doing better. So I am hoping that what we present around EHR optimization, while not every organization can take it and run with it since many are still implementing, maybe there’s a piece of gold in there that they can take away and do something differently in their organization to drive value. Part of my role is to help the overall health IT community. We don’t compete on technology; we compete on patient care and the experience. IT is there to enable all that.

Mac McMillan, chairman, CEO and co-founder of CynergisTek (Austin, Texas)

[From a cybersecurity perspective], you can collaborate with people who are struggling in this area and also with people who are actually getting it right. And at CHIME, the talk is much richer. There’s a lot of sharing going on; it’s more of a meeting of peers as opposed to a trade show. So we can talk with CIOs, and now through AEHIS and AEHIA, you can talk with folks on the security and application sides of it. You have conversations all day long with people who are dealing with issues, dealing with situations, looking for ideas, and sharing ideas. [For me], where I might be recognized as an expert on the cybersecurity side, others are experts on the health IT side or the transformation side, and these are things I need to know to understand where healthcare is going, what is changing, and how CIOs are using systems and data. And that helps me figure out what I need to do to help them do that safely. 

Bryan Bliven, CIO, University of Missouri Health Care

There’s a lot of knowledge out there and a lot of people are trying different things, and this is a forum where you can share those ideas and get other ideas. We approach our presentation in that way; it’s not perfect but here is a list of things we’re doing and have had success with. Can you apply any of it to your organization? And the same thing goes for challenge areas; have others cracked a nut that we haven’t? So maybe you can take that back and not go through a trial-and-error exercise. That actually is easy to do since there is always an area you’re not focusing on as much as someone else. Of all the people here, someone has approached this topic, and if can’t get the answer, I can at least get some strategies.

Zane Burke, president, Cerner Corp. (Kansas City, Mo.)

I am here to learn. There are industry trends and dialogues that I’m having with a number of CIOs and other industry folks, so I am making sure that our strategic plans are on the right path and are consistent with what our clients our thinking. And also, that our execution is where I believe it to be. This is a great opportunity, you have 500 to 600 CIOs together, and I can survey both my own clients and non-Cerner clients to check in with them to see what they see as the biggest trends. I am seeing a lot around consumer engagement and how to drive ROI, as well as how to do the right thing around interoperability. You find that healthcare [people] like to help each other since it’s so hard and complex. How do we solve these hard and complex things together? Even though healthcare competes on certain things, it’s more about co-opetition.

Robin Sarkar, Ph.D., CIO, Lakeland Health (Michigan)

One thing I am looking to learn is how we can help clinical productivity through technology. The introduction of automation in healthcare has slowed down clinicians to a certain extent. Many of our doctors, like other health systems, spend more time looking at the computer than looking at the patient. So I want to learn what innovative strategies other health systems are using to improve clinical and physician engagement, to improve physician efficiency, and reduce clinician burnout.

Paula E. Anthony, vice president and CIO, ETMC Regional Healthcare System (Tyler, Texas)

We don’t do enough of collaborating [around cybersecurity]. Until recently, healthcare organizations who were victims [of a breach] were also defendants in a federal investigation. And that recently changed; we are watching the feds be far more reasonable in us sharing and reporting breaches so we can learn from one another. But organizations are still wary of that because they are exposed. Overall, we have to get better as an industry with sharing so we can mitigate some of these risks.

Brenda Hodge, chief marketing officer, healthcare, Nuance Communications (Burlington, Mass.)

We were impacted by the NotPetya malware over the summer, so we feel like it’s our obligation to share the security lessons learned from that. So since then, we have been going to security sessions sharing what our lessons learned were. Our healthcare CEO just flew out from here to speak in Nashville at a security session about this issue. And for the CIOs within CHIME, we have offered to do the same for them.

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