HIMSS in Review
The 2012 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Conference & Exhibition, held late February in Las Vegas, attracted nearly 40,000 attendees. HIMSS12 featured more than 300 educational sessions, symposia and workshops and more than 1,100 exhibitors.

Below is a sampling of Health Imaging’s editorial coverage of HIMSS12. For complete coverage, please visit HealthImaging.com/Conferences/HIMSS2012 where you will find:
  • HIMSS: Enterprise imaging project tops 1,200 terabytes
  • HIMSS: ICD-10—ready or not?
  • And much more.

Health IT community needs to share failure stories

With nearly 70 percent of health IT projects failing, Jonathan A. Leviss, MD, vice president of physician solutions at Dearborn Advisors and Larry Ozeran, MD, president of Clinical Informatics, urged their colleagues to share IT failure stories.

To avoid errors or recover quickly after failure, the presenters recommended pursuing objectives with clear goals and guidelines to minimize loss, avoid using knowledge that is not tried and true and use standard processes to monitor and identify failure. “Clock failure based on the value of what could be lost,” Ozeran said.

He suggested health IT leaders foster a culture that encourages people to voice concerns about potential failures. “If you shoot the messenger, he’ll stop giving you messages. If you stop getting messages, you won’t know what’s going on until it’s too late.”

Ozeran suggested a few options for assessing failure management:
  • Prevention: What steps might have been taken to anticipate and prevent the problem and at what cost (people, time and money)?
  • Early intervention: Were there points where earlier identification could have minimized cost or shortened the time to resolution?
  • Post-failure remediation: What now?

Staffing shortages replace money concerns as main health IT barrier

Staffing shortages surpassed concerns over lack of adequate financial support as the No. 1 barrier to implementing IT in the 23rd annual HIMSS leadership survey. The results include the input of 302 healthcare IT professionals from more than 600 U.S. hospitals.

So what are the top 10 IT staffing needs? Clinical application support topped the list, followed by network and architecture support, clinical informatics, system integration, IT security, clinical transformation, database administration, PC and server support, process and workflow and system design/implementation.

It came as little surprise that 61 percent of health IT leaders expect to increase their staff in 2012; only 5 percent expect a staffing decrease.
The panel presenting the data also noted salaries are on the rise due to greater competition among providers, vendors and consulting companies for similar personnel to drive technology implementation and optimization.

2012's biggest health IT challenges and solutions

A few months into the year, 2012 has delivered a hefty dose of challenges. However,  William Morgan, MBA, senior regional information management executive for Christus Spohn Health System in Corpus Christi, Texas, said there are solutions to the challenges plaguing health IT.

The challenges are regulatory, technological and more. Regulatory challenges include the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the HITECH Act and meaningful use.

Mobile access is yet another challenge, he said. “I am amazed at the number of devices out there and the various deployment strategies,” Morgan added. “However, managing these devices pales in comparison with 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.”

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 challenges have a fiscal component.

Morgan reviewed 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 helps incentivize everyone to meet compliance goals.

To effectively track projects, Morgan said leaders 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 integral, 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.”