Hospital CIOs Turn To Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn integration is key to industry group CHIME's efforts to promote expertise and advance health information exchange development.

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The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), representing hospital CIOs, is trying to position its members as leaders in IT implementation and knowledge sharing at the state level by incorporating more social media into a redesigned website. At its annual Fall CIO Forum last week in San Antonio, CHIME unveiled an updated CHIME CIO State Network, StateNet, now with social networking as a focal point.

StateNet is intended to be a communications platform rather than just a repository of information, featuring integration with popular social media tools, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, according to Jeffery Smith, CHIME's assistant director of advocacy. "What I call it is an engagement platform," said Smith, who was hired in March to evaluate and improve the site.

"The tagline is, it's a network of networks," Smith told InformationWeek Healthcare. StateNet will now incorporate widgets from other social and professional networking sites and include blogs and discussion forums, convened and moderated by CHIME members serving as state coordinators.

State coordinators are acting as conveners for other stakeholders in health IT, including state hospital associations, government entities, and state chapters of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).

Coordinators will have specific goals and objectives for disseminating best practices and advocating on behalf of health IT professionals. "This isn't meant to supplant anything that's going on [elsewhere], but to supplement it," Smith said. However, he added, "We're really making a push to make it a CIO-led effort."

[ Marketing, business development, patient engagement, and personal use are top reasons healthcare workers are tapping into social networks. See Most Health IT Pros Use Social Media. ]

CHIME tested the new site with a soft launch in August. New Jersey was one of the beta testers, led by Neal Ganguly, VP and CIO at Freehold, N.J.-based CentraState. Since then, a number of stakeholders within New Jersey have joined, including the state’s health IT coordinator, Colleen Woods, who was appointed by Gov. Chris Christie. Currently, 16 states have set up their own pages on the revamped StateNet, according to Smith.

The CIO organization created StateNet in 2009 to serve as a hub for health information exchange (HIE)-related activities in each state. Early this year, the organization published a set of guiding principles for HIE and for the federally funded regional extension centers (RECs) created to assist physician practices and small and rural hospitals with adoption of electronic health records.

CHIME has since seen more interest among its membership in influencing the pending rules for Stage 2 of the Meaningful Use electronic health record incentive program, training health information management professionals to alleviate a workforce shortage, and addressing various elements of healthcare reform. Much of the activities have moved from the national level to states and local markets, though.

"The expansion and refinement of health information exchange operations; rollouts of Regional Extension Center service utilization for stage 1 Meaningful Use; and the development of health IT workforce capacity are all areas where states can and should be engaging with 'boots on the ground,'" StateNet chair Russ Branzell, CIO and VP of Poudre Valley Health System in Fort Collins, Colo., wrote on a CHIME blog.

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