Healthcare CIO’s face the reality of HITECH
Healthcare CIO’s are all facing the new reality of HITECH. They are evaluating their current EMR’s and existing systems interoperability to determine what will be required to receive the HITECH incentives. They are going to be asked to demonstrate “meaningful use” (once it’s defined). CIO’s are starting their assessments and due diligence.
What is the sense of urgency? The HITECH plan calls for “meaningful use” to be defined by the end of this year. From a Healthcare perspective that means tomorrow. Hospitals and physician practices who demonstrate meaningful use will qualify for some of the billions in incentives coming from the government. The issue is that Healthcare CIO’s cannot wait for the “black and white” definition of meaningful use. They must start now if they hope to achieve the goal.
What Healthcare CIO’s do know today is that the definition of meaningful use is going to breakdown into four main categories. This includes CPOE (computerized physician order entry), clinical documentation, quality reporting and system interoperability. Healthcare CIO’s need to assess their current and planned system implementations to determine the best approach and/or combination to achieve this. They also need to factor in security, privacy and HIPAA compliance.
All this must be accomplished during these trying economic times. Plus, once the fuse is lit, resourcing these projects nationally will become a big challenge. The best thing Healthcare CIO’s can do is to be as proactive as possible and get their strategies, plans and projects in place. This is your classic “carrot or stick” approach to get the CIO’s and their C-Level peers to take action. This after all, is not only an IT initiative, but a directive for the entire organization, where every C-Level must be involved and held accountable.
The budget and execution of the HITECH initiative will transcend the entire organization. The key to accomplishing HITECH compliance will be all about measures. The measure of quality, system interoperability and patient outcomes will be the true test of compliance. This coupled with the necessary security, privacy and HIPPA compliance standards, makes it a complex initiative at all levels.
Healthcare CIO’s certainly have many challenges ahead. The best advice I can give them is to get started and be as proactive as possible. They are not alone. This will be challenge for every hospital and physician practice in the country. Some will be successful and some will not. It’s time to get started to better their odds.