Comparative Data Among Physician Peers

George Evans, CIO, Singing River Health System
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George Evans, CIO, Singing River Health System

Challenges in technology to meet enterprise needs in 2013 and expectations

Integration and improved analytical abilities. The landscape is changing rapidly and where robust IT was once optional it is now critical for survival. In the coming environment we will need tools that are reliable, flexible, scalable and “play well in the sandbox”. The consolidation of vendors will continue and many niche sellers will find themselves looked over in favor of offerings that while less functional are more tightly integrated (such as applications from core vendors).

The areas in business environment where solutions do not yet exist or not up to the mark, and which if existed, would've made job easier

I do nearly all my banking online on one website.We need our staff and patients to have similar abilities. We’ve made progress in that direction but there are a lot of opportunities for improvement as we extend our reach from healthcare to health. Device integration is ripe for improvement. So is infrastructure management. What keeps me up at night is network performance and disaster recovery.

Manner in which data is used to head off problems and complications before they happen

We use a combination of systems and data to avoid mistakes and ensure efficiency. Rules in our systems proactively notify us of contraindicated or duplicative treatments. Readmissions are analyzed retrospectively for common elements so we can identify patients at risk and manage them appropriately. We also incorporate analyses from journals and other best practices into our reporting.

Thoughts on how IT strategic planning supports organization-wide efforts to improve quality, cut costs and improve efficiency in the Healthcare sector

A major part of any performance improvement initiative is to know where you stand. Current quality and performance metrics and cost data should be readily available. Benchmark data is a powerful means of encouraging change. Comparative data among physician peers or hospital departments pushes staff to be top performers. Reports that can be refuted due to poor accuracy do more harm than good. Better analytic tools and the extension of them to areas outside IT represent one of the greatest opportunities in healthcare.

Technology trends impacting enterprise business environment

The increasing demand for data analytics is one. Healthcare has historically operated as a bunch of silos. New reimbursement policies are forcing a move to an integrated approach with a need to manage data across previously uncrossed boundaries. Population health is another. First there is the change from a care to wellness focus. Second, the sources of data become far more numbered and totally lacking in standards.

My roles and responsibilities as a CIO

When I got my first job as a CIO 25 years ago it was based entirely on my technical knowledge. I was hired most recently almost entirely based on my operations knowledge. There has been a steady march over the years towards becoming more strategic and focused on business unit results rather than having a pristine network infrastructure.

Lessons learned and advice for fellow CIOs

Hire good people, execute well, and spend prudently. I do think it’s important to stick to the basics. Don’t get too far ahead, don’t fall too far behind. I like to think of positioning myself at the point of divergence of one of those spaghetti charts they use to track hurricanes i.e. in a position to react based on the best available information.

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