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Leading Healthcare Technology Change

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Russell P. Branzell, President and CEO

This post is sponsored by Greenway Medical.

As President and CEO of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), Russell P. Branzell is leading during an extraordinarily exciting time as CIOs work to transition their organizations to electronic medical records and boost security practices. Branzell has an extensive background in healthcare and information services, including his former position as Chief Executive Officer for Colorado Health Medical Group, and has served in the United States Air Force in several healthcare administration roles. Here he discusses today’s most pressing issues for CIOs and how CHIME is supporting senior IT leaders in today’s rapidly changing healthcare environment.

Question: What are some of the biggest technological challenges your members face?

Russell Branzell: One is still the magnitude and quantity of work that needs to occur around technical solutions. Most of our membership is probably overcommitted anywhere from 200 to 500 percent. There is so much work to be done that generally what we’re seeing is an inability to meet that demand. CIOs want to provide great solutions, but they are under the stress of almost no downtime.

The other part is taking the time to find the true value of a solution that has already been installed. We’re going at such a rapid pace it’s the problem of not taking the time to benefit from what’s already in place.

Q: How can CIOs best stay up-to-date on compliance issues?

RB: This is the third most pressing area. If you compare security in healthcare to other sectors, we are quite behind. It used to be basic HIPAA requirements, but most organizations are not even close to the basic benchmarks set from the White House.

We’re seeing CIOs wanting to hire expertise they don’t have, such as CSOs, to truly get their arms around not only the security, but everything that needs to occur. Whether it’s financial audits or legal work, someone has to run point for the CIO.

One of biggest gaps we saw was the inability to develop this next level of leaders—CSOs, and the technology and application officers. We’ve been training people through our boot camp for years, but once we trained people through the starter set, we found that there was no one fostering networking, education and sharing, which is why we launched three new organizations: the Association for Executives in Healthcare Information Security (AEHIS) for CSOs, and the Association for Executives in Healthcare Information Technology (AEHIT) and the Association for Executives in Healthcare Information Applications (AEHIA) for CTOs and CAOs.

Q: What other educational gaps exist around technology and application development? How is CHIME helping close those?

RB: There is still significant demand for leadership-development training for CIOs and others in the IT space. There is no doubt that they need to do technical work and focus on solutions, but we have a long way to go to get our leaders to what we call “2.0 leaders.”

We recently announced the early process of developing what a strategic or transformational leader—a “3.0 leader”—needs to be over the next 10 years. It’s focused on how to be a long-term leader, and what we need to do to drive our new performance leaders over the next decade.

We’re also seeing a need for an external-integration strategy, or how to integrate with patients in their communities. Organizations are now facilitators of a large-level discussion of engaging people where they’re at rather than waiting for people to come to them.

Q: What are some new initiatives for 2015?

RB: We are going to examine how to assist our membership with detailed analytical data to improve organizational and individual performance. We may do that through individuals or a partnership with other associations.

Another initiative is how to engage the international market—the Middle East, Europe, Asia. Now that so many initiatives are worldwide, and those organizations in the international space are doing what we are, including the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, we need to work together to facilitate the best healthcare information management systems on a global level. We’ll be working with HIMSS to grow that partnership.

Additionally, we’re co-managing the Most Wired program with the American Hospital Association on how to benchmark best practices and share that information. We’re also working on a strategic partnership with KLAS Enterprises, the rating agency for vendor product performance, to propagate better information and improve tools and solutions for our vendor community.

Q: What challenges have you seen this year that you expect to continue in 2015, particularly around technology and patient management?

RB: The real issue is that we are still in such an early state in EMR adoption, especially relative to the Meaningful Use requirement. We need to help transition the industry to an EMR solution, not just in the next year, but over multiple years.

Security will also continue to be major point, especially when we realize the budgetary requirements from a security framework perspective. There’s still slow movement in that space, and the insurance industry or government requirements could cause a pretty rapid change.

It’s exciting times, and I don’t think any of us would want to be in any other industry to try to make a difference for our patients and the organizations we serve.