20 Tests Healthcare CIOs Must Juggle

With never-ending waves of federal regulations and new technologies, healthcare CIOs face constant change. These issues top the list of leadership challenges.
ICD-10By October 1 healthcare providers must upgrade to ICD-10 -- the 10th revision of the International Statistical Classifi
Meaningful UseTo meet Meaningful Use 2 objectives, healthcare organizations must incorporate a slew of new capabilities. They
AnalyticsHealthcare providers have lots of data, but using that information is challenging. "It's one thing to have the data,
BYODBringing their own mobile devices to work might be easy for healthcare employees, but it's a complex job for IT departmen
InteroperabilityThe Affordable Care Act did not include any mention of interoperability, and that's causing problems for prov
StorageThe influx of newly insured people entering the market, combined with an aging population, will increase data storage
EHRsWhether a provider is implementing its first electronic health records system or an upgrade, the EHR is its lifeline, mak
ReliabilityMedical staff must always have access to patient data. Downtime directly affects care, so redundancy, backup, and
Robotics and telemedicineUsing telemedicine robots, doctors can interact with patients hundreds or thousands of miles away. L
Mergers and acquisitionsPundits predict the consolidation trend will continue in healthcare. That means IT must integrate dis
HIPAA complianceNow that HIPAA has more teeth and every link in the chain is a potential vulnerability, CIOs and chief securi
Cutting costsHealthcare providers agree that improving patient care comes first. At the same time, providers are under pressu
Patient engagement and population healthTo improve patients' health and benefit from the move to value-based reimbursement, h
Hiring and retentionJust as Y2K created a short-lived frenzy for specialists, government mandates have generated high demand
SecurityHealthcare data no longer resides solely within an organization. These days they are in clouds and tablets, and on sm
MobilityHealthcare professionals rarely stand still, and neither should the tools they use to communicate, connect, or collab
CareerBecause technology is integral to so many healthcare endeavors, CIOs play a visible role in an organization's success o
IncomeGovernment changes to Medicare and Medicaid payments and private insurers' adjustments in a post-Obamacare age mean hea
InnovationWith so many resources focused on meeting government mandates, some CIOs fret that little money or time is availabl
ChecklistsMany healthcare processes are routine but vital, and providers use checklists to make sure employees execute each s

Like circus performers juggling flaming torches, healthcare IT professionals must manage multiple high-priority tasks simultaneously: making sure their organizations serve patients' health, meeting government mandates, and operating at maximum efficiency.

Each year brings old and new challenges. In 2014, providers and payers face ICD-10's deadline, the looming arrival of Meaningful Use 2, and ongoing enforcement of HIPAA throughout the provider chain. At the same time, healthcare evolves toward volume-based payments that demand patient engagement and population health programs, all of which require tight integration between technology and its users.

Rather than see these times as challenging, many healthcare CIOs see them as filled with opportunities. They're partnering with doctors, nurses, administrators, and other members of the healthcare and technology ecosystem not only to find computerized systems to replace paper-based workflows, but to replace outdated processes with more-efficient user- and patient-friendly procedures.

When EY (Ernst & Young) worked with one hospital, a radiologist wanted the new EHR to replicate a clunky, multi-step paper process, said Bill Fera, principal at the professional services organization. "We made the process of ordering a radiology examination completely intuitive and somewhat educational," he said in an interview. "These are big opportunities to rewrite broken processes and a lot of times people don't take advantage of that."

ICD-10, margin pressure, and the move to personalized care are increasing demand for analytics and big data. This gives IT the chance to change processes from old-time data analysts taking users' requests to enabling employees to do their own research. This change frees up IT staff to move away from data analytics and focus on business- and technology-oriented tasks, liberating IT budgets for innovation and satisfying business users' demands. Working with individual departments that pursue research grants for technology-based exploration into areas such as 3D or analytics, IT also increases its value.

As leaders, CIOs set the tone for how an organization sees the entire IT department. CIOs who help employees integrate personal health devices such as FitBits, who focus on mobile, who use cloud and collaborative tools to share data, and who simplify -- not complicate -- processes, are seen as partners, several CIOs said.

We've rounded up 20 issues healthcare CIOs must juggle. Which ones top your list? What would you add -- or leave off? Let us know in the comments section. 

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