Since the arrival of the pandemic, healthcare organizations have faced a cultural shift. In the past, health leaders have naturally been risk-averse and have, of necessity, created systems that established a wide array of administrative roadblocks to change.
But many organizations have cut back on a variety of rules and requirements over the past two years to help expedite the changes needed to tackle the pandemic. This represents a big opportunity for innovation.
Going into 2022, we may now be able to benefit from this historic shift away from rigid workflows and risk avoidance. If we can seize this moment, we may be able to make this a uniquely transformative year for healthcare.
Here are some priorities for technology and leadership focus for CIOs in 2022.
Develop the perfect platform
At present, health systems have robust analytics tools at hand to extract data from their electronic health records, but they can do a great deal more. Now is a good time for CIOs to look at ways to create a perfect platform that digs into a much more comprehensive array of data.
CIOs can begin to develop – or partner on developing – solutions that sit on top of their essential systems, rather than accessing just the clinical data held in their EHR. By bringing together and analyzing these disparate data types, you can generate new and valuable insights.
This platform can include offering deeper dives into population health management, accurate cost of patient care, CMS and social data, supply chain optimization (especially when we are having issues with the supply chain on a global scale) and, most importantly, insight to bring more efficiencies in your daily hospital operations.
Virtual Care 3.0, aka hospital-at-home
This is an opportunity for CIOs to shine and lead the way in developing a set of tools that can deliver care anywhere, anytime. Here are some portfolio solutions to consider:
- Virtual care. Expand the organization’s current telemedicine solution or establish a new one to figure out how to bring the platform readily to a patient’s house. I’ve seen inroads to patients’ homes made with partnerships with broadband carriers or cable TV operators.
- Map route optimization. Delivery of care at home necessitates the clinician to go and visit the patient’s house. To ensure that your clinicians are traveling using optimum routing based on the schedule, use and collaborate with solutions such as Google Maps, Apple Maps or a third party.
- Wearables and remote patient monitoring. RPM and simple-to-use wearables for monitoring are easy to use and deploy. The technology is straightforward, but establishing a full-time command center operations that can monitor many patients simultaneously is essential.
Stop being a control freak
The centralized IT department is no longer relevant in today’s environment. Explore a decentralized model in which top management delegates day-to-day operations and decision-making power to sector (department) experts, with technology specialists as part of the team.
The fundamental idea behind a distributed approach is to give authority and responsibility to those who know best – those who are closer to stakeholders. Embed the IT team with operations closely.
Promote a citizen developer culture by adopting low-code or no-code solutions. Low code offers the potential to facilitate the development of solutions by using a graphical user interface, instead of the traditional approach of relying on hand-coded programming, thus requiring little to no coding to build applications and processes.
Traditional CIOs must deal with their fears of giving up control and realize that they cannot regulate and control access, especially to data. Governance will be challenging and new, but we cannot stick to the same process that was in existence five years ago while expecting it to work in today’s environment.
A large portion of work can be done from anywhere. Of course, in healthcare, some work – such as surgical procedures – must be conducted in a clinical setting.
Think about your tech stack and whether those are robust enough for work-from-anywhere with security measures in place. The employee’s home is now an extension of the network environment, and the solutions must be simple to use when employees are outside of the organization’s campus.
In addition, focus on up-skilling your leaders on managing a remote workforce. Work is not a physical place you go to anymore, so having leaders trained to handle the remote staff will be essential.
David Chou serves as the CIO for a public academic health system. He has held executive roles with the Cleveland Clinic, Children’s Mercy Hospital, University of Mississippi Medical Center, AHMC Healthcare and Prime Healthcare.