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CEO: How to Integrate IT Staff and Mission

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media, November 8, 2011

HLM: How can IT professionals do a better job of communicating with clinicians?

SC: CIOs think they're under a lot of pressure?and they are?with all of these new standards. As we've prepared for stage one of meaningful use, we've had to implement additional prompts that the physicians have to respond to. The CIO has to fully appreciate the physicians' workflow. Providers are busy. They see more patients with more complex problems and they cannot be frustrated with what they see as minutia that doesn't add value to the care.

CIOs should think through the process to the end user and show them how it is valuable to them, [and]  how it impacts the care of the patient.  If you've developed that right relationship with those care providers, they'll go along with you a little bit. They'll give you a little flexibility.

With IT, the one thing I've learned  [is that] it's a journey and you're always hearing that in the next upgrade it will be an improved process for that end user. There are constant changes for the end user. All I'm asking the CIO to do is work and think that through as a process workflow before you put the fix in or before you go to the docs and ask them to make a change. Be prepared and appreciate their position.

HLM: What role does IT play in caring for patients?

SC: At the end of the day we're a hospital. We take care of patients. IT is the bridge that supports that core business. Whether or not health IT folks believe it, the healthcare world does not revolve around the computer. It's about taking care of the healthcare needs of our community. And the computer is a resource that we use to help that.

IT folks should see themselves as a bridge between that technical and that touch and learn to communicate. If they do, they'll have a whole new level of reward from the job that they're doing. Because they'll see how it touches the patient and the care.

HLM: How do you encourage IT professionals to engage in patient care at Harrison?

SC: The IT staff round every morning at the same time that the physicians are rounding. Every day, IT is on the medical floors. That's their first priority of the morning is to be available to all of the caregivers as the shifts are changing. That has really helped them to see, quite honestly, that they are a resource and a tool that helps take care of these folks.

When I talk to our CIO my first question is 'how is this going to affect the patient?' You have to come into the same sphere of conversation. How does it affect the patient? How does this help the doctor take care of the patient? How does this help the nurse take care of the patient? Patient care is the most important thing. Honestly, it's the reason we exist.

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