Donning Multiple Roles to Lead the Business

Dale Sanders, CIO, National Health System
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Dale Sanders, CIO, National Health System

Dale Sanders, CIO, National Health System

Challenges in technology to meet enterprise needs in 2013 and expectations

The challenges and wish list in brief: provide affordable, proven analytics solutions that will support my analytic strategy for at least the next five years. Enhance EMRs to allow me to capture detailed and more accurate cost data, making the actual cost of care transparent to physicians and patients at the point of care. Help physicians identify, manage and engage patients with chronic conditions in their own care more effectively

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

As I mentioned earlier, the lack of detailed cost accounting and patient reported outcomes data is are very disturbing. One thing that keeps me awake is how to implement the “instrumentation” of workflow to collect more granular data, about physicians and other providers so I can more accurately account for their costs. Another is the lack of integration between HIT and smartphones; which would ease data gathering and exchange.

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

We use analytics to target specific problems we want to improve or prevent. One of the first and easier ways is to identify and eliminate variability in care. We also target disease states/care processesthat consume the most resources.

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

There’s always tension in IT. As a CIO, do you follow and react to what the business needs from IT or do you lead and pull the business plan as an active member of the executive team? Are you more a technocrat or a leader; who helps, guide and pull the organization along from a business perspective with innovative applications of IT? If you have that interest as a CIO and fellow executives who welcome your contribution, you can play a huge role in your enterprise’s strategic plan.

Technology trends impacting Enterprise Business Environment

Analytics will have the biggest impact. We’ve gone through the first two phases of data management − collecting data in financial and EMR systems, and sharing information via HIEs and EMRs. The third phase will be analyzing data and disseminating actionable information, to the front end of care.

The second trend I see coming is mobile enablement of healthcare through smartphones. This includes things like physicians practicing medicine, accessing and transmitting records etc.

My roles and responsibilities as a CIO

Whatever the role of the CIO, one message that I want to send to the other members of the executive team: The old days of dismissing or treating technology as a bothersome afterthought, not worthy of your attention—those days are long gone. I still see a lot of healthcare executives who treat IT as the world of the nerdy propeller heads.

Lessons learnt and your advice for fellow CIOs

There are three basic types of CIOs that I’ve witnessed in CIOs and seen in myself – the Technologist, the MBA, and the Integrator. My advice for CIOs is that they study and understand the business of healthcare. You have to think like a physician, nurse and healthcare economist; and behave like an IT specialist.

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