Healthcare IT Gets Snubbed in “State of the Union”……So What!

I would not want to be the President right now. No matter what he said on Wednesday night, he undoubtedly would leave someone out; some initiative, some special interest, some high priority agenda item. Then how, with tackling the exorbitantly high cost of healthcare as the single highest profile item on his desk, did he forget to mention Healthcare IT (HIT)? Seriously, how?

There was no mention of the ARRA and HITECH money allocated to demonstrating “meaningful use” of healthcare IT that hospitals, doctors offices, healthcare clinics and every other possible recipient has been scrambling like chickens with their heads cut off to understand for the past 6 months. There have literally been new businesses created to analyze and make sense of this information; new government committees established to oversee the process; experts and pundits claiming this and that on national stages, radio shows, conferences; with all the press HIT has gotten from the day the President was sworn in, you’d think he would’ve give us a progress report, at least from his point view.

There was no mention of the EMRs, CPOE, Clinical Data Repositories, PACS, and Electronic Documentation that are all suitable candidates for the initial projects providers can tackle because of the availability of research and best practices available for these initiatives. No mention of the increased regulations from JCAHO, HIPAA, and CMS. No mention of the accessibility issue so closely related to the President’s broadband initiative that will determine patient accessibility beyond the hospital walls.

There was no mention of the strategies that CIOs, CMIOs, CEOs, and CFOs are utilizing such as data warehousing, clinical data marts, electronic capture of patient information through kiosks (just like when you check in at the airport); clinical alerting to increase compliance with Core Measures and other regulations; and using evidence-based decision making from strong data quality, discrete, standard, timely data collection, and last but not least, enterprise-wide data governance strategies.

Ok, so we were all left out, but as Tom Hanks would say “there’s no crying in baseball”.  Good thing for us, we don’t have time to sit and sulk.  First things first, get your act together.  You will never understand where your weaknesses lie and your opportunities for improvement sit without understanding the information you’re collecting, on a day-to-day basis, across the entire spectrum of your healthcare organization.  The average hospital has 120 different software applications, mostly transactional, that all have their own subset of data. Understanding this vast landscape, and integrating the data and transforming it, in a timely manner, into actionable information, is critical for any executive; the providers able to balance government demanding reform, patients begging for lower costs of care, researchers advancing the standards for higher quality, and the constant advancements in technology will be the ones who not only survive, but emerge from this recession stronger than when they entered. You will be looking for a roadmap!