Five IT Headaches for the Healthcare CIO

Ed Simcox, Healthcare Practice Leader for Logicalis US, looks at the top five issues facing CIOs in healthcare organisations today, and some of the steps they can take to address them.

The term “mission-critical” is applied to IT solutions with such abandon these days. But there is one sector in which its liberal use can be excused – healthcare.

This is a sector in which IT failure can literally have life or death consequences – and in which the provision of efficient, co-ordinated care is increasingly reliant on information technology. It is also a sector with very particular, exacting requirements. Ensuring that IT systems live up to these requirements is critical to healthcare CIOs.

Healthcare CIOs must deliver the IT systems that underpin ever-improving standards of care, while bringing costs down. They must enable mobility and collaboration across increasingly distributed healthcare organizations, and they must also keep personal health information safe and secure.

It won’t be a surprise, then, to learn that healthcare CIOs struggle with a variety of unique IT headaches. Here is a summary of the top five headaches for healthcare CIOs, along with suggested remedies:

  1. Meaningful Use: Meaningful Use incentives are a blessing and a curse. Providers want incentive payments, but adoption of IT to solve healthcare problems must be “meaningful.” We have recently seen the result of providers trying to pass off inadequate implementations as meaningful. Future stages of Meaningful Use require employing advanced analytics. The amount of information gathered and used in healthcare is exploding. Most organisations have solved data capture. The next step is making use of that data to inform clinical decisions. This requires an enterprise-wide data aggregation/warehousing/ governance strategy, as well as a related investment in people, processes, and technology.
  2. Mobility: Clinicians and nurses are weighed down by the number of systems they have to log into and the number of mobile devices they have to carry, which means less time with patients and higher administrative overhead associated with device management and password resets. CIOs must simplify the computing and communications environment. The technology needs to dissolve away so that clinicians are focused on patients, not IT. Happy clinicians make for happy patients. There are a handful of IT components that can be integrated to solve this issue. While they are not unique to healthcare, their implementation is healthcare-specific.
  3. Imaging: As image resolutions and fidelity go up for radiology, cardiology and other specialty imaging practices, we are seeing explosive growth in data storage requirements. But focusing on storage and retrieval of images is just the beginning. A significant number of studies are reordered because a clinician is not aware that an image study already exists for a patient. If images cannot be located and used in the patient context, they are of no clinical use. The ultimate goal is to enable clinicians to review any type of image-based study alongside text, so they get a longitudinal patient view - a contextual timeline of a patient’s health history along with all relevant image studies.  A picture speaks a thousand words.
  4. Security:  When faced with declining budgets and increased risks, maintaining security certainly keeps healthcare IT executives up at night. Healthcare CIOs are exposed to very serious scrutiny due to harsh civil and criminal penalties associated with data breaches particularly in the U.S. and to a lesser extent in Europe. Healthcare organisations must make good-faith efforts to establish a robust control environment and security posture. Working with a third party that has expertise in IT security, security scanning, and security audits - specifically in the healthcare industry—helps organisations take a step back and properly examine all the potential holes in their security postures.
  5. ICD-10: In many countries ICD-10 has been adopted for some years. But in countries where implementation is imminent, for those organisations that have invested in ICD-10, moving forward and activating ICD-10 now is the best strategy. This tells stakeholders you’re serious about regulatory compliance, and that the organisation is preparing the data analytics and decision-support mechanisms that were not previously in place.

Want to Learn More? Visit the Logicalis healthcare IT web site at

Tags HIT, Healthcare IT, Healthcare, Business Strategy