ACIO’s charge is to keep an organization running smoothly. CIOs are evaluated on crucial tasks such as providing a secure and reliable information infrastructure, maintaining enterprise applications and reporting clean, reliable information back to the business. Visionary CIOs know that technology also holds the promise of disruptive innovation.
Ironically, the very person responsible for order must also serve as an agent of change and transformation for the business. As the CIO of the Mental Health Center of Denver, a private, not-for-profit community mental health center, I took a risk to help fundamentally change how we access information in our electronic health record (EHR). Through the process, I’ve learned valuable lessons as to why investing in innovation is one of a CIO’s most important responsibilities.
Going beyond Digitization
Several years ago, we recognized we had outgrown our legacy EHR, which could no longer support the center’s growth. Because we were having serious performance and stability issues, we embarked on an aggressive plan to replace it all at once–registration, scheduling, clinical documentation, and billing–in a nine-month implementation process. A system changeover is an intensely challenging time. Our team could have focused solely on the implementation. But, embracing the opportunity to innovate, I met with the leadership team from Netsmart; together we set a goal of going beyond digitization to build a system that would help clinicians easily find crucial information that can get buried in years of clinical documentation. This will be a game changer for how clinicians use EHRs to provide clinical care.
20 Percent Structured Data and 80 Percent Narrative Text
Industry estimates are that 20 percent of a health record is structured healthcare data, “check the box”-type information stored in data fields that easily queried, analyzed, and fed back to the clinician. The remaining 80 percent of a health record is in narrative text; notes and assessments from physicians, nurses, therapists, and case managers. This valuable information tells the story of an individual’s condition and treatment.