Laura Wilt, Systems VP & CIO at Ochsner Health System
Technology Innovation and the Role of a CIO
With rampant technology innovation, the role of a Chief Information Officer (CIO) has evolved from managing infrastructure to a key player in the decision-making process of an organization. In the wake of the increasing digitalization and deeper technology integration in the healthcare ecosystem, a healthcare CIO’s responsibilities have only increased. Apart from making the right choices in selecting the equipment, the CIO in a healthcare organization needs to collaborate with various teams in the organization for effective technology decisions.
"Technology is paving the way for better access to clinical data while supporting greater opportunities to connect patients to the right treatments"
CIOs today must strive to stay up-to-date with the recent technology developments in the healthcare industry. Some of the technologies that we are focusing on are exclusively related to data and analytics and how they can provide more information about patients, operations and the organization as a whole.
EMRs and Healthcare Operations
The importance of the Electronic Medical Records (EMR) today is evident in hospital operations. The EMR at Ochsner is Epic, and it is an integral part of many of the key components of the hospital operations, whether it’s how a doctor documents the examination of a patient or how the revenue cycle team facilitates authorizations from insurers. One of the challenges we see is having the Information Service steam working with operations and clinicians to better understand the business. This is something that we are continually working on to improve our capabilities, and our team is constantly growing and learning from operations. We aim to use a design-thinking approach, putting the patient at the center of the workflow, and then working with providers, clinicians, and other employees around and alongside the patient. Then the Information Services team can also apply their knowledge of workflows to create the most streamlined, efficient workflows inside of the EMR.
Trends impacting Healthcare
Today, most of the healthcare providers are adopting value-based care—the care focused on patients and affordability, rather than the sheer volume of treatment. Technology is paving the way for better access to clinical data while supporting greater opportunities to connect patients to the right treatments. The expansion of IoT, mobility and Big Data has brought new possibilities to the patient care. These innovative technologies facilitate real-time engagement with patients and allow organizations to generate actionable insights on the health of each patient.
At Ochsner, our innovation team, innovation Ochsner, has developed a digital medicine program that facilitates home monitoring of chronic diseases like hypertension (high blood pressure (BP). This has proven to be very beneficial as the patient can stay at home involved in their care. The BP readings provide us with additional information that we share with the clinical team who provides care for patients. With the increase in data, the iO team has created advanced analytics, and we have become more proactive in patient care. Instant reporting, quick notifications and flexibility to adjust medications have transformed the way we deliver medicine. By utilizing the power of digital, we can deliver care more efficiently and offer modern as well as personalized services that patients and clinicians expect.
Our team constantly works toward developing effective communication skills while focusing on the organizational goals. I think it’s important to infuse innovative ideas into the team’s daily work, whether it is creating a special project team to work on a specific initiative or organizing competitive events like a hack-a-thon. One of the core values that sets our work culture apart from competitors is our “patient’s first” approach. We try to always listen to the patients’ perspectives and take into consideration the impact our services have on our patients. We can provide the best care for patients in our global community by constantly improving our work culture.
Building Technology Leaders
Through the years, I’ve learned that relationships and people are one of the key factors in job satisfaction. Through our service, we connect with people, whether they are patients, employees or our peers.
The core value that a CIO should abide by is the commitment to be a lifelong learner. As a CIO, it is essential to learn about everything and be aware of what others are doing because the origin of the idea can be from any source. To facilitate that, Ochsner is completely focused on providing the right training, education and required skills for our employees.
The healthcare industry is going through a radical transformation by embracing computing technologies and data analytics to deliver effective services. This is an exciting time for us to adopt innovative technologies. Our focus currently is on leveraging data analytics to gain more insights into patient management and healthcare operations.