Rick Schooler, CIO and VP of Orlando Health in Florida, sounds more like a chief medical officer than a tech pro. A "new level of decision support," driven by business intelligence, is moving health IT closer to what Schooler calls the endgame of disease management, clinical analytics, and population health.
Schooler believes that the success of transforming the nation's health system rests on how well organizations input and mine their data, both in real time at the point of care and in post-care review.
"This is real for healthcare and it's not going away," he said. "If you don't believe that, you probably need to get out of healthcare."
The seven-hospital Orlando Health organization made the 2011 InformationWeek 500 list largely because Schooler has been successful in tying together myriad, disparate information systems. These systems contain such data as patient demographics, laboratory results, medical images, clinical documentation, patient history, problem lists, medication lists, allergies, and discharge summaries.
"A health system like ours literally has hundreds of clinical information systems," Schooler said. Different vendors provide systems for registration, scheduling, billing, and ancillary departments. "There are all these technologies that need to be integrated."
With that in mind, Schooler and his team have implemented an enterprise data warehouse and advanced analytics tool sets, and they recently established a corporate enterprise analytics team.
The technology might have evolved, but the strategy for integrating systems is the same as it's always been. "It all stems from getting effective workflows into place," Schooler said.