LAS VEGAS—Despite proclamations that 2012 marks the end of the world, William Morgan, MBA, senior regional information management executive for Christus Spohn Health System in Corpus Christi, Texas, said that while there are numerous challenges to health IT, there also are solutions. Morgan spoke during the 2012 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference on Feb. 22.
The challenges are regulatory, technological and more. Regulatory challenges include the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the HITECH Act and meaningful use. “Simply put, meaningful use is showing the use of an EHR in a meaningful way [by means of] exchanging data to improve quality of care and the ability to submit clinical quality outcomes,” Morgan said.
Mobile access is yet another challenge, he said. “I am amazed at the number of devices out there and the various deployment strategies. However, managing these devices pales in comparison to privacy and security requirements when working with these devices.”
The biggest technological challenge, he said, is the explosion of data. “A typical day’s work at your facility results in 1.5 terabytes of data. That’s something you need to get ahead of and stay ahead of.”
Demand management is another “big, big challenge,” Morgan said. “The demands are coming at us from all sides—from within the organization for improving care, decreasing costs and speeding up care and from external sources such as the health information exchange (HIE) realm. There is a ton of demand on all health IT leaders.” Consumers now play a role in that demand, he pointed out. With at least one billion existing mobile devices by 2008, the applications and capabilities of the devices created consumer demand. “That’s a real gamechanger. It changed demand almost overnight.”
And, of course there are fiscal challenges, such as decreasing reimbursement and rising costs. Morgan said those financial pressures could be changing treatment protocols. Plus, all of the previously mentioned challenges have a fiscal component.
It wasn’t all bad news as Morgan discussed several solutions such as a meaningful use tracking tool. “What gets measured gets managed,” he said, and “improving quality of care is why we want to use EHRs effectively." Christus has set up multiple projects designed to cover meaningful use tasks that require “more oomph,” he said. A summary list of meaningful use projects are tracked on a weekly basis and reported to the organization’s leadership which goes a long way toward incentivizing everyone to meet compliance goals.
To effectively track projects, Morgan said you should begin with the end in mind, agree on metrics and measures, enable standards enforcement and operational improvement and “plan your work and work your plan.”
Effective governance of these projects is key, Morgan concluded. It supports strategy, helps manage demand and improves performance due to improved focus. Effective governance helps establish a consistent way to add new systems and tools. “If you bring in everything people request willy nilly, you’ll choke on it. You have to follow a consistent, strategic decision process.”