Hospital CIOs weigh in on health IT in 2012

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As 2012 draws to a close, we wanted to give our FierceHealthIT Advisory Board members a chance to weigh in on what they saw as the biggest industry developments of the year. We qualified our request by asking them to think about developments other than Meaningful Use Stage 2 and ICD-10, two of the more obvious news items from 2012.

Theresa Meadows (right), CIO at Cook Children's Health Care System in Fort Worth, Texas, pointed to mobile healthcare and emerging BYOD strategies as big developments. "We are seeing patients and clinicians using these devices," she said. "How we manage this change, deploy applications and develop ways to ensure the security of the devices has taken a good amount of time in 2012."

In the coming year, Meadows said, she thinks provider organizations will only continue to incorporate mobile devices into their environments.

While Roger Neal (left), CIO at Duncan (Okla.) Regional Hospital, also mentioned the increased use of mobile devices in healthcare, he said increased data utilization is another major development.

"With the emphasis on EHR implementation in the office and hospitals, we are seeing more and more synergy around sharing data between the hospital, physician offices, nursing homes, etc.," Neal said. "Big data or small data, there is a growing push to really understand what is working and what is not through the data."

Additionally, he said he thinks that remote monitoring of patients for accountable care and patient center medical home models has started to take off, and will only become more important in the coming year.

"People in general want to be healthy, but you come to the hospital or your doc, you get a prescription or a new diet and you're ready to go … until you go back home to your reality," Neal said. "Then people that have good intentions start to slide back to their comfort zone. These new patient technologies will give us the opportunity to give reminders, support, encouragement, in those patients' real areas of living."

Stephen Stewart (right), CIO at Henry County Health Center in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, said he thinks that, at the end of the day, the results of this year's presidential election are the most important development.

"It would appear that the Affordable Care Act will be implemented in substantially the same form as it stands now," Stewart said. "There are, of course, positives and negatives to that, but at least we have some level of clarity and direction for the next few years."

For 2013, Stewart said that means more of a focus on accountable care, in particular. To that end, like Neal, he said he sees informatics as being crucial.

"To make reasonable decisions in this new world, we will be compelled to turn mountains of data into usable information," Stewart said. "Risk sharing is risky if you do not have data up front to evaluate your options and make informed decisions from current information."