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Un-complicating Healthcare IT

8 Musts for Community Healthcare Providers' 2015 IT Plan

Jan 5, 2015 4:29:00 AM Posted by Phil Stravers | Partner, V.P. Strategy & Development

If you are a community healthcare provider, you have just been through a time where the pace of change and confusion couldn’t be greater. Predicting the future can literally mean trying to understand what is going to be different in just 6 short months from now. The old notion of a 5-year strategic plan has gone out the window in favor of 1-year action plans. Simply put, there is a “new normal” that we must accept related to pace of change. In light of that, I’d like to offer a few thoughts on what you might expect to incorporate into your IT Plans for 2015:

1. Ever Increasing Mobility – This will manifest itself largely in an increased focus on delivering truly valuable mobile applications to phones and other personal devices for clinicians, executives and patients.2015 IT Plans

2. Heightened Security Emphasis – In no small part due to the above point and the fact that healthcare is becoming a much more attractive target for identity theft and fraud, security efforts must move past the policy level to real hardening of technology systems. This is going to require a significant change in approach for a lot of community hospitals and clinics. New security technologies alone won’t cut it. Increased monitoring and threat prevention disciplines must accompany the new technologies or end users will just be more frustrated and systems won’t really be any more secure.

3. IT Disaster Recovery Plans, Confronting the Brutal Facts – CEO’s and boards will be taking a much more vested interest and feel a significantly increased fiduciary burden to correct deficiencies in their current DR strategies in order to ensure the success of the business. Increased compliance audits and dependence on IT systems will require more robust disaster recovery strategy than most have in place today. There are two critical questions that must be answered: How much time can I be without a system, and how much data can I afford to lose?

4. ACO Participation Becoming Mainstream – I’ve found that many community hospitals and clinics today are swimming in a sea of conflicting information about ACO’s and HIE participation requirements. Organizations need to expect that they will be participating in an ACO soon. The key is doing so in such a way that makes good sense from a business outcomes standpoint. The technology options for supporting this also continue to mature, so don’t assume there is only one path to participation.

5. Updating Network Infrastructure – The last four years have been fraught with software projects in order to meet the rapidly changing compliance requirements and as a result, our refresh cycles for infrastructure have been challenged. This will be the year to refocus budget and energy on shoring up the infrastructure. Windows 10 is around the corner and most have just recently figured out a strategy for widely deployed Windows 7, which is a clear example of the infrastructure update gap. I suspect most will have, at least, some catching up to do this year.

6. A Shift from EHR Implementation to EHR Optimization – Clinical efficiency and EHR effectiveness are the new holy grail as it relates to our EHR systems. These two things come when organizations begin to optimize usage of systems by focusing on the best value stream for the patient. It’s hard to believe, but there is already a lot of “we have always done it this way” in our EHR systems today, which means these systems are ripe for efficiency gains.

7. Data Analytics and Report Writing Growth – Turning our data into valuable information is a must if the systems are to produce a return on investment. Beyond statistics, reports and dashboards that drive optimal usage will become another point of emphasis. When the standard reports can’t satisfy the need, a team approach to developing the custom report may be necessary, i.e. – business or clinical analyst, database administrator and programmer/report writer.

8. Increased Data Sharing through API’s and Standards like FIHR – More and more community healthcare organizations are going to need to take ownership of their own interfaces and methods for sharing data with third parties. The recent advancements in this area should allow community healthcare providers to interface more applications at a lower cost.

I’m sure each of you could share your own list of IT priorities for 2015. If you have ideas or comments on anything in this article, I’d love to hear them. So, please send me a note via LinkedIn or comment here via the blog! Best wishes in 2015!

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Phil Stravers | Partner, V.P. Strategy & Development

Phil Stravers, Partner and EVP of Strategy & Market Development at ICE Technologies, Inc. has been in consulting and management roles within the information technology industry for over 25 years and has spent more than 20 years helping hospitals and clinics “make IT work better”. Phil has had the opportunity to act as an Interim CIO for numerous hospitals which gives him a unique perspective on their challenges and associated solutions. Phil really enjoys sharing lessons learned and frequently presents at various hospital associations, HIMSS events and healthcare board rooms all over the country. In addition to his passion for improving Health IT, he loves baseball (die hard Cubs fan) and has spent more than 15 years coaching young baseball players. Phil lives in Pella, IA and often shares concepts learned from his background in coaching along with the Dutch farm culture and work ethic that his home town is known for.