What Keeps Health IT Leaders Up At Night?: Patient Safety, Automation … and the List Goes On

What keeps health IT leaders up at night? It’s a simple question with millions of different responses. For each one of us, it’s something entirely different. For me, I toss and turn because of a few fairly simple reasons: ensuring my start-up company is bringing in revenue to cover the bills and building it into a sustainable first-class organization, not the mention making sure my family is healthy and secure.

Most likely what keeps me up, keeps health IT leaders up, too, but they likely face a few more complexities than I given the huge responsibility they bear keeping their products in compliance with reform and regulation, and the large number of people their products touch. With all of the activity and rapid change in the ever evolving world of health IT, I decided to ask a few folks what in fact keeps them up at night.

Some of the following responses you might expect; others are a bit surprising.

Dr. Michael Dahlweid at GE Healthcare

The single most stressful thing is  balancing patient safety, outcome based value benefits for users, and cost effective design and production methods while creating compelling market solutions — and accomplish all of this while prioritizing relevant patient data to prevent the kind of overload that leads to ‘analysis paralysis.

Dr. Jonathan Handler, CMIO at M*Modal

The transition to ICD-10 is very worrisome.  Because the system is over 20 years old, it’s not targeted to today’s needs for improving patient care.  Additionally, the transition to ICD-10 is an extraordinarily expensive one; for every dollar and minute that is going to an inadequately effective ICD-10, there’s one less dollar and minute for vaccinations and other basic needs.

Neal Benedict, CEO of healthcare, Verdande Technology

There is a lack of integration of key patient data and systems such as the EHR and other key IT like STS, making it difficult to capture the full patient picture and acting on that information. And, resistance to enhanced or improved workflow that takes advantage of technology to improve patient outcomes and reduces cost.

Stephen Cobb, ESET

Malware and data theft is a growing concern for healthcare IT professionals and is a real and growing risk.  The era of bring your own device complicates these risks even more. Unfortunately, there is no good news. The level of sophistication emerging out of the malware industry will likely outpace the deployment of technologies designed to protect these digital assets. 

Kurt Long, CEO FairWarning, Inc.

What keeps this IT health executive up at night is providing solutions that assist healthcare providers in achieving: uninterrupted growth of digital healthcare, the growth and protection of the care provider’s reputation, better information sharing and most importantly the betterment of patient care, patient privacy which would have a positive impact on patient lives and care outcomes.

Patient privacy monitoring (or privacy breach detection) systematically identifies users who are engaging in patient access patterns that are indicative of snooping, identity theft or other risky behaviors. Patient privacy monitoring is performed for all crucial EHRs and applications that provide access to protected health information (PHI). The solution then filters out known false positives, and brings any remaining potential incidents to the attention of appropriate privacy personnel. 

Mike Lanciloti, vice president of marketing and product management, Spectralink

What keeps me awake at night is knowing that many nurses are dependent on our devices to do their jobs effectively. In many cases, a Spectralink mobile handset is the only communications device that a nurse has, and the tool must always be available and effective to ensure patient safety and satisfaction. I’m always thinking about new features we can roll out to our customers to ensure they have the best communications device possible.

Steve Cochran, CTO of GHX

Having come from other industries, like retail and automotive, what keeps me up at night is realizing the generally low level of automation in healthcare today. For example, there are solutions available for medical-surgical supply chain automation that fit the needs of small and large organizations, but the reality is that utilization by suppliers and providers is not where it should be. To exacerbate the problem, we have disparate systems throughout healthcare organizations that currently can’t share data. So what I think about are ways to capture key data elements throughout the supply chain, and then use it in all of the systems that need it – regardless of whether or not they’re currently connected to each other. Data captured, identified and standardized, and then pushed to the cloud, so it can be used where and when it’s needed.

An example of these two problems – lack of automation and the need to capture data – exists in the hospital OR today, specifically as we look at implantable devices. This is a $40 billion market segment with an estimated $5 billion in waste and loss each year.  As a health IT vendor, concerns around implantable devices has been driving GHX to develop services for a new segment – managing and tracking products through the implantable device supply chain. This work builds on our current capabilities and is a natural evolution of our core services to reach new providers and suppliers and more widely expand medical-surgical supply chain automation.

The preceding is a limited sampling of responses from a few vendors. I’d love to hear what worries you and why you lose sleep. Contact or leave a comment below.

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