Embracing the Changing Healthcare Continuum

By Laura Wilt, System VP and CIO, Ochsner Health System

Laura Wilt, System VP and CIO, Ochsner Health System

One of the challenges that the U.S. healthcare industry faces today is the rapid change in technology. This disruption creates industry pressure as early adopters in various industries enter the healthcare space and identify opportunities that fundamentally and permanently alter the landscape. Progressive providers are shifting from a fee-for-service payment model to a value-based paradigm. There are also subsequent changes in how government reimbursement will influence payment for healthcare services, most notably, in population healthcare. These combined factors will force us to think differently and innovatively on the way we deliver care services to patients.

Healthcare has digitized on a broad scale after the legislation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). A primary goal within the ACA and HITECH Act was the need to increase the use of electronic medical records (EMR), so, in turn, the healthcare industry has accelerated its embrace of digital transformation. Additionally, other parts of the healthcare ecosystem, such as back-office functions that were not previously digitized, are evolving beyond electronic records and are now translating digital information into informative insights and capitalizing on digitized workflows. This accelerating digital transformation requires us to build teams that are agile and innovative. Information and data are critical to our future success in healthcare, and equally critical are the people who lead and participate in these efforts.

Viable Strategy to Deliver Better Service

To thrive in this ever-changing climate, we must adapt quickly to change, be agile and adopt a learning process to adjust strategy, structures and processes. Conversations with your team to embrace these significant changes will be paramount for success. Healthcare organizations who join this evolution will win with their patients and improve quality and outcomes while reducing cost in innovative ways, and it will take people and teams to lead this change.

Evolution of the role of CIO

Today’s Chief Information Officer has advanced to a more business-focused role. This includes not only the technical skill set required in the traditional position, but driving business strategies, all the while engaging your team to adopt new ways of thinking and understand the added valued to the organization.

The Future of Healthcare

Today, companies are focused on adopting emerging technologies and new models of care that are operated by these technologies. For example, the Digital Medicine Programs at Ochsner Health System facilitate home monitoring for patients suffering from chronic conditions. Relying on the Internet of Things(IoT)and through a remote care team of specialized pharmacists and the use of wireless medical devices, we can detect when a patient’s status changes and then take immediate action before the situation becomes serious. We also utilize new technology assets, such as using data and applying machine learning algorithms to it, to brainstorm ideas and create workflows. Then we can determine how to effectively incorporate these new insights into our healthcare setting.

Leadership Principles

It is imperative to embrace change—to be able to look where things are heading and lean into those changes instead of resisting them. I invest in the talent and growth development of the team, to ensure we have the right group in place that can help lead us into the future. Ochsner’s mission- -to serve, heal, lead, educate and innovate–as well as one of our commitments, “seek first to understand”, drives us. We listen to the voice of the customer and employees across the system so we can understand what they are trying to accomplish and develop solutions.

Take every opportunity that comes your way to learn and connect; whether it is within healthcare or remote to healthcare. We must continue to disrupt ourselves and proactively integrate change before others disrupt us.

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