CHIME22: ‘We’ve Learned to Be a Bit More Agile’ and Other Health IT Lessons

For Meadows, the adoption of EHRs was transformational, especially when there was finally buy-in from clinicians and patients to be a part of the process. She said Cook Children’s has very engaged clinicians — a huge change for the industry from when clinicians would try to bypass IT solutions.

“I look back at that and see how far we’ve come from a clinical perspective in really getting them more engaged,” said Meadows, who has a nursing background. “I absolutely believe the foundation is there and we have to figure out how to continue bringing in that clinical input into our decision-making and our customers’ input — not just patients, but everyone’s input.”

The importance of cybersecurity in healthcare has also grown immensely. Daugherty said she became more focused on cybersecurity in 2017; that’s been critical amid the rise of cyberattacks against health systems, especially during the pandemic. And as more organizations adopt digital strategies, the value of patient health information will only increase.  

“Making sure that the workforce of the future has a security-first mindset, I think, is going to be really important,” Daugherty said.

Mitigating the Workforce Crises in Healthcare

Meadows also acknowledged healthcare’s workforce shortage, not just from a clinician’s perspective but also from an IT leader’s perspective. She said she has 90 open, highly competitive positions in IT at her organization. Now is the time for organizations to think more broadly about collaborating across environments and possibly sharing resources.

When it comes to staff burnout, Daugherty emphasized mental health support. Meadows added that staffing shortages could provide an opportunity for innovation.

“If you haven’t done a burnout survey in your organization, I would encourage that because you get a lot of rich data about why people are burned out and why they’re leaving and why the change is so hard,” she said. “And then you can start thinking about ideas that you can create.”

Some solutions might involve virtual nursing support or a job share program, Meadows added. It’s important to innovate in different ways beyond clinical care.

Daugherty said that she’s also approached nontraditional departments to recruit talent as an opportunity to add unconventional experiences to healthcare IT. “For some reason, there’s still this misconception that you have to be a technical person to be in technology, but you don’t.”

WATCH NOW: How Atrium Health’s virtual nursing observation program mitigates clinician burnout.

What’s Next for the Role of CIO in Healthcare?   

Disruption and innovation in healthcare don’t have to be science fiction fantasies.

“I think you can disrupt the things you already have,” Meadows said. At Cook Children’s, her team has been working on what she called a “mashup” of technology in which they collaborate with current partners to use what they have in different ways.

“It’s not always about the new shiny object that disrupts things. It’s about how we challenge the status quo to take things that we have and use them differently,” she said.

Disruption on its own is not a virtue, Glaser added: “Technology itself is usually not the disrupter. The business model that leveraged the technology — that is disruptive.”

So, for Glaser, innovation is fundamentally “invention at scale.” For example, with the invention of the Ford Model T, the innovation existed in the systems that supported the first automobile, from the creation of roads and gas stations to the emergence of car insurance, creating lasting impacts.

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