Against a backcloth of growing financial pressures, digital progress in many countries and within many acute hospitals remains painfully slow. Despite a number of subtle differences prioritising telemedicine, data security, electronic health cards and electronic prescriptions the vast majority of health economies are tasked with creating comprehensive electronic records to support transfers of care and care away from the hospital environment.
Notwithstanding, the considerable challenge of introducing electronic records and other clinical applications within hospitals, hospital groups and multi-site organisations. Despite being several years down the line there still is no ‘silver bullet’ – it remains challenging, frustrating and time consuming.
Throughout 2016, the CIO will require greater leadership acumen as expectations of modern technologies continue to grow with patients and citizens finally recognising the value of technology and its role in the healthcare environment. The incentives and penalties are starting to find their way into the eHealth agenda, however the ‘patient demand’ driver is still not really having the desired effect.
Satisfaction levels within those who use healthcare IT continues to be mediocre with many CIOs struggling to maintain personal credibility through periods of major IT enabled transformational change. The CIO will need to have the skills to manage effective stakeholder relations across an entire health economy becoming the facilitative glue that sticks future organisations together.
They too will need to be more proactive and prepared to actively lead on digital transformation not just within the hospital but right across the health economy.
IT leaders need to be bold and courageous to exploit this potentially closing window of opportunity. It is a brave executive management team who agrees to a significant investment in the current environment. Equally it is a brave one who ignores the ability of technology to be a potential game changer.
The CIO must be capable of taking clinicians and possibly patients and citizens on this journey with them. The ability to manage the external environment is more important than being able to manage within the walls of the hospital. This will be the challenge for 2016 and beyond.
On top of this, the ability to assess levels of digital maturity and their impact across an entire health economy is critical to ensuring that technology is not only in place but also working well. Being able to compare and contrast this maturity amongst peers in different regions and countries, using tools such as the Continuity of Care Maturity Model, will no doubt go some way to encouraging benchmarking, knowledge sharing and perhaps even healthy competition!
Organisations that are committed to working together will often exhibit a common commitment to share information, have joint funding arrangements, a willingness to transfer care, similar leadership styles and cultures and absolute clarity on clinical responsibility at all stages of the patient journey.
The challenges of working in an environment of increasing complexity, with fewer financial freedoms and increasing expectation from both the clinician and the patient will present the CIO with a tough and uncertain future.
The survivors will be the ones that recognise that times have changed and as such are happy to rely more on their emotional intelligence, levels of self-awareness and their ability to empower others than knowledge and skills that would be more traditionally associated with the role.