The past few years have been a whirlwind of new rules and regulations, placing endless demands on Hospital based Information Technology Departments. When you add on to this the cost control initiatives, population health management and reporting requirements, this has left many clinicians and hospital departments overwhelmed and feeling as though their own operational needs are not being recognized or met by their information technology teams.
From an IT perspective, we are very proud of our accomplishments in meeting ARRA, HITECH, Meaningful Use and the ICD10 requirements. A feat that seemed impossible a few short years ago had now come to fruition and a celebration seems in order. So it came as quite a shock to us when we realized that few actually shared our sense of awesomeness and that most were far more concerned with the daily operational issues within their departments.
Once we came to grips with this, we decided to pull together specific groups of Physicians, Clinicians and Departmental Directors and Managers and began having candid conversations on their current needs, frustrations, and system and workflow issues. The feedback and information we walked away with caused us to step back and reflect honestly on our accomplishments as well as the service and support we have provided to the hospital and staff over the past few years. We quickly realized that we weren’t as awesome as we thought and that we had slowly moved away from our original goals of helping our customers be successful.
The majority of these large technology initiatives require significant changes. These changes are hard on users and equally tough on management who must try to balance the demand and supply for limited IT resources. The federal programs of late have been the primary focus for Information Technology Departments forcing the end users to accept a decrease in service and support. In order to realign ourselves with the operational needs of our customers, we took all of the information, feedback and requests we received and began developing the new face of Information Technology Services.
This new approach includes 6 core principles;
1. Establish forums to encourage open dialogue and have honest discussions around challenges and opportunities
2. Consistent involvement with department goals, initiatives and their growth strategies
3. Develop a grass roots movement that is excited about improving processes and embracing accountability without penalty
4. Create a culture that values and uses data to effect change
5. Building trust and collaboration amongst teams and departments
6. Renew the enthusiasm around IT creativity and innovation
As we approach the end of 2015 and begin the process of developing our operational and budget plans for 2016, each of these 6 core principles will be incorporated into all of our decisions, projects, purchases and activities.
So much of the hospital clinical and business operations now depend on technology, the role and influence of the CIO and the Information Technology Department has changed dramatically. As this evolution has taken place in only the last few years and primarily driven by federal mandates, it seems we have been so preoccupied with ensuring that we meet every requirement and measure that many of us has forgotten the primary reason we initially made this our career and the real sense of accomplishment we felt when we were able to take a complex task and simplify it for our customers.
Now is the time to refocus and renew ourselves with the true principles of how the information Technology department can better serve our Clinicians, Staff and Patients.
Courtney Fisher-Lewis, Associate CIO, Saint Luke’s Health System & Ex-Sr. Director, IS Program Management, Children’s Mercy Hospital David Chou, SVP & CIO, Harris Health System & Ex-Chief Information & Digital Officer, Children’s Mercy Hospital