This is a guest post provided by John Kravitz, Senior VP and CIO of Geisinger Health System. Huntzinger periodically invites its clients and partners to contribute to The Huntzinger Blog.
By John Kravitz, CHCIO
Senior Vice President and CIO
Geisinger Health System
Time as a CIO
Time in Current Role
18 months as CIO, but I’ve been a part of Geisinger Health System for eight years.
What is the Greatest Current Challenge Facing Healthcare IT?
IT has to support everyone at a greatly reduced budget, due to lower reimbursement. We’re always looking to do new and innovative work with less money. As an IT department servicing the organization, we need to be as efficient as possible, and that includes the consolidation of applications. A best-of-breed approach is less efficient.
Other challenges — and this goes beyond the healthcare industry — include cyber security. You must be nimble and be sure you’re staying ahead of it as much as you can. We’re always evaluating solutions that can help protect our organization.
What will be the Next Major Impact Area of IT on Healthcare?
Analytics are extremely important for health IT. We mine data with analytics and inject information back into the workflow of our electronic health record. We can look at a patient who has chronic diseases, mine that data to look for gaps in care where they didn’t have tests or procedures that would help keep them healthy. That information can be sent to the EHR, so when the patient returns, those issues and gaps can be addressed to keep them healthy and out of the hospital.
In terms of innovation, I hear a lot about artificial intelligence and machine learning, but there is still work that needs to be done on how to apply that technology to patient care. Natural language processing is showing promise in identifying trends in automating physician notes, and I expect NLP to play a larger role going forward.
There’s also a lot of discussion about the internet of things, or IoT. Connecting coffee pots and refrigerators to the internet is one thing, but using IoT for IV pumps and cardiology devices can be dangerous due to the potential for malware infections that can impact patients. We must put a virtual wrapper around those devices to protect patients and the information those devices contain.
What is the Biggest Challenge of Being a Healthcare CIO?
It’s a challenge getting IT employees to not focus on technology, but to focus on the patient or health plan subscriber. As IT people, we need to think about how we can do things more effectively and efficiently to help treat patients or help subscribers. That’s really what we’re here for — not the technology. IT needs to support the business, and changing the culture is part of the challenge.
Cyber security is going to be continuous challenge. It’s important to teach employees to be mindful when they’re working. They may get baited to offer up information for a free offer that can steal their information. The firewalls and other security solutions work fine. It’s the employees who need to be educated on how to avoid hacks and malware issues.