Pioneers of HMT Up from the basement
Three decades of evolution in healthcare IT, seen through the eyes of CIOs who led their organizations through some of healthcare’s most dramatic changes.
By Michael E. Hilts
Editor’s Note: This is part two of a two-part series. Part one was featured in the September issue of Health Management Technology; it can be viewed at www.HealthMgtTech.com.
Best technologies deployed Horror stories aside, what stands out as the best technologies these CIOs deployed over the years? For Denis Baker, vice president and chief information offi cer for Saraso- ta Memorial Healthcare System in Florida, it’s a centralized data stor- age system from EMC. He notes that if they followed conventions of the day, each system would have its own data storage – and its own process for accessing, monitoring, maintaining and backups. “As we prepared for our EMR implementation, the concept of the longitudinal patient record was emerging,” Baker says. “We decided we wanted a system to keep everything, on every patient, forever – not simply the seven years that would meet regulatory requirements.” Monday-morning quarterbacking makes that decision look easy. But it was tougher then, Baker indicates, partly because their other system vendors, including a major PACS seller, complained. “They wanted us to buy and use their storage and backup system,” says Baker, “so they indicated their system couldn’t accommodate storing and retrieving images from the EMC solution we were planning.”
Baker warns that even today, with each new system they con- sider, the vendors pitch their own backup and storage. Hospital CIOs
20 October 2010
should be willing to say no and be ready to use their own storage system. At Sarasota, after a two- year battle with its imaging system vendor, the hospital succeeded in doing just that – and it was the right choice.
Mike Hilts is a senior practice leader at CES Partners, a healthcare executive search fi rm headquartered in Chicago, and former editorial director and publisher of Health Management Technology.
“We looked at all the applica- tions we had running, all the remote connections we were supporting,” says Hickman. “Our staff was con- necting on devices from so many locations. We had more than one VPN in place. The Citrix farm al- lowed real centralized management; it was almost like being back in the mainframe days again.”
The boom years Denis Baker Denis Baker George Hickman George Hickman
“Especially when you recognize that the cost of a terabyte of storage is 10 percent or less of what it used to be, and still coming down,” Baker says. “More important, look at the utility: We can pull up data, images, everything on a patient we saw 12 years ago. The docs love it. They say it takes a little more time to sign on, but the system provides so much better access, they’re very willing to swap out the time they used to lose calling medical records to pull an old chart, and waiting.” For George “Buddy” Hickman, senior vice president and chief in- formation offi cer for Albany Medi- cal Center in New York, one of the best solutions they’ve put into play was building a Citrix server farm, about fi ve years ago.
HEALTH MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGY
The late 1990s were the boom years of healthcare IT. Hospitals began investing in IT in a big way as they shifted from the narrow con- centration on revenue cycle optimi- zation. Enterprise-wide information warehousing began to take root for clinical as well as fi nancial decision support. Health systems began to supply systems to support line man- agement and employees at all levels, not just senior management. The early clinical information systems were arriving. New “best practices” in clinical arenas emerged, and in- formation technol- ogy began to show its
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potential to help reduce mortality rates.
The big challenges were “integra- tion” and “interfaces.”
John Hummel, founding mem- ber of Certifi cation Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT), IS consultant and former