Healthcare CIOs describe their wishes for the incoming president. Among them: National data standards, stronger data security, and continuing efforts to advance technology.
Scuttling meaningful use for hospitals, continuing with value-based payment efforts, and using the most advanced technology available are some of the nuggets of advice some healthcare CIOs have for President-Elect Donald Trump.
"Stop MU and redirect resources focused on the program," advises Marc Probst, CIO of Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City. "Any value that potentially came from MU is now over."
Probst, an original member of the Health IT Policy Committee of the Office of the National Coordinator, adds that "the check-the-box approach to HIT is severely limiting innovation, frustrating caregivers and increasing costs. [It's] time to let providers and other HIT organizations figure out for themselves how to best utilize the EMR technology and get value from their investments."
Probst adds that the Trump administration should focus government health IT spending on "issues they can help with, such as national data standards and information security strategies."
Other items on his priority list for the Trump Administration include passing a bill through Congress to create true semantic interoperability of EHR systems and data. Probst, the current chair of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, says the organization has developed a draft bill focused on this issue.
Probst also wants to see less regulation of digital healthcare technologies such as telehealth. "Regulation inhibiting expansion of tele-health use or payment for tele-health services is hurting healthcare," he says.
Regardless of political events in Washington, healthcare leaders must focus on already-identified high priorities – improving quality, safety, and efficiency, says John Halamka, CIO at Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center in Boston.
"In my conversations with Washington DC career staff (not political appointees), there is a sense that the Quality Payment Program will go forward as written," Halamka says.
Halamka's advice to healthcare CIOs is to ready themselves for care management and payment based on quality and outcomes. To Halamka, that means:
- Social – groupware applications for clinicians to coordinate care including secure messaging integrated into the EHR workflow
- Mobile – move everything provider and patient facing to mobile platforms
- Analytics – provide population health and CRM tools based on a cross-organizational aggregation of data from inpatient, outpatient, urgent care, emergency and skilled nursing settings
- Cloud – make all solutions available from cloud-hosted providers anywhere at any time
- Privacy – invest heavily in security, respecting patient privacy preferences when sharing data
"Such an approach works for Obama's agenda and should work for Trump's," Halamka says.
"My initial reaction is one of shock," says Randy McCleese, vice president of IS and CIO of St. Claire Regional Medical Center in Morehead, Kentucky.
"Based on what I have heard and seen in the media, rural America carried Trump to the presidency. Hard-working people that live in rural areas and small towns have become very irritated with Washington inasmuch as the government seems to have forgotten that we are here.
McCleese says St. Claire has spent millions of dollars during the past few years implementing technology to overhaul the delivery of healthcare "and cannot go back to the pen and paper days of the past. My advice for the new administration is to continue the advancement of safe, effective, and efficient delivery of healthcare utilizing the most advanced technology."
How Real is Healthcare Consumerism?
The consumerization of healthcare was on the minds of another CIO.
"President-elect Trump's populist message around advancing the retail orientation of healthcare delivery, including price transparency will probably accelerate the current trends and pressures we have already seen in this direction," says Darren Dworkin, senior vice president of enterprise IS and CIO of Cedars-Sinai Health System in Los Angeles.
"In health IT, I would expect that we will see even more rapid innovation in digital health as consumer-friendly applications continue to be demanded to be connected to our existing enterprise systems," Dworkin says.
Scott Mace is the former senior technology editor for HealthLeaders Media. He is now the senior editor, custom content at H3.Group.