3 questions for CHIME board members on CIO roles in accountable care

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Editor's note: This is the second in a three-part series on the changing role of technology and IT leaders in healthcare. In the first part of the interview, CHIME board members discuss how the role of the member organization has changed since its inception 20 years ago. Here, in part two, they talk about how technology can enable new models of care and the CIO's role in preparing for and executing them. In the next article, the CHIME board members will discuss the changing professional roles and responsibilities of healthcare CIOs and other technology leaders.

We've all heard that technology will play a huge role in accountable care and medical home models, from enabling information exchange to maintaining accurate patient records to harnessing all that data to improve outcomes and reduce costs.

But the nuts and bolts of the technology is one thing. Most CIOs and other healthcare technology leaders are confident in their ability to manage those systems.

The fact is, there's more to it than technology and systems. The modern CIO is playing an increasingly important role in guiding an organization toward creating a strategy and roadmap for implementing the momentous change facing hospitals today.

At the College of Information Management Executives fall forum, held last week in Indian Wells, Calif., I met with the member organization's three newest board members to discuss the changing landscape of healthcare technology.

In today's excerpt from the interview, Pamela Arora, vice president and CIO Children's Medical Center, Dallas; George McClulloch, Jr., associate director and deputy CIO, Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville; and Charles Christian, CIO of Good Samaritan Hospital in southwest Indiana talk about the role of the CIO and healthcare technology in preparing for accountable care and medical home models.

We kicked things off with a fairly simple question:

FierceHealthIT: What issues are going to be most important to CIO and other health IT leaders in the next year? In short: What's freaking them out?

George McCulloch, Jr. (right): They're freaked out about ICD-10, as they should be. They're freaked about Meaningful Use Stage 2--or Meaningful Use Stage 1, depending on where they are. Aside from those, we're all struggling with the whole revamp of care delivery models.

So now it's "what's my role?" in whatever size organization I'm at, whether I'm going to be part of an ACO or I'm trying to pull together smaller hospitals into a network that survives--I think that's the biggest challenge people are facing. So Meaningful Use pushed me in a particular way, but it's really about delivering care differently. And what's my role as a CIO in helping my organization decide what we're going to do differently than we do right now? Because the current financial model is unsustainable. I've got to partner with my clinicians and say "what do we do different?"

You've got to find the nexus of control within your organization. You need to find partners that want to help and have a vision of what they want to get done. It's finding those people in your organization and saying "That's my leader" and helping them frame the questions that they have and the ways they want to exercise their options.