Building an HIT foundation, for hospitals, has only just begun

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Healthcare providers have only just begun to build health IT foundations, according to panelists who recently spoke at The Economist's Health Care Forum in Boston, covered by PCWorld.

For instance, Cleveland Clinic CIO Martin Harris said that his organization has been aggregating patient, financial and payer data and using it to deliver better care and reduce costs. He added that using data to determine what care to provide is included in doctors' annual reviews. Another use of such data, according to Harris: using the knowledge that patients cancel surgeries during snowstorms to better manage operating rooms.

John Halamka, CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, and a FierceHealthIT Editorial Advisory Board member, said he thinks "financial peril" awaits hospitals that don't change their business models to ones based of quality over quantity of tests and procedures.

This vision of the future, to Halamka, includes electronic health records with better interoperability.

"My fee-for-service business is dead," Halamka said. "The days of going to the doctor when you are sick are gone."

Halamka added, however, that health IT proponents shouldn't hold their breath that everything will go digital--health IT won't replace every piece of paper.

"Paperless hospitals are as likely as paperless bathrooms," Halamka said.

Halamka recently said he thinks the top goal for 2014 for hospital CIOs is "institutional survival."

By focusing on "institutional survival," departmental needs are very likely to go unmet, he said in a recent blog post. For instance, he called ICD-10 "bigger than Y2K for healthcare," and told CIOs to assume that the transition "will consume a majority of ... IT resources for the next year.".

In a similar post in September, Halamka said that regulatory uncertainty and a continuing decline in available resources will loom large for hospital CIOs in the coming year.

To learn more:
- read the PCWorld article

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