Healthcare Transformation Led by the CMIO 2.0

As the opening keynote speaker for the second day of Texas HIMSS Regional conference, Dave Levin, MD, CMIO at Cleveland Clinic, discussed transformation in healthcare, or lack thereof. Dr. Levin started off his presentation with statistics that we’ve seen before but don’t like to admit – while spending twice as much per capita, the United States has a comparatively low life expectancy and an infant mortality rate that approaches third-world countries.

While healthcare in the United States is currently a “terrible value” according to Dr. Levin, he is also optimistic that we are heading towards a perfect storm. Three things are converging which can together drive transformation: value-based care, a rise in consumerism, and increasing use of health IT.

Healthcare IT has done some good things so far, but no one is giving the industry perfect scores. A lot of money has been spent and adoption has improved, but there are still rising financial challenges and increased scrutiny based on the money already spent. In addition, many users, physicians in particular, are frustrated with some of the new workflows.

Dr. Levin described the path towards healthcare IT improvement involves three distinct steps:

  1. Implementation
  2. Optimization
  3. Transformation

He used the following chart as an aid to illustrate why we as an industry rarely end up in the transformational stage.  

Implementation is what we know as an industry. It involves highly technical IT people with project management teams leading up towards a big bang go-live. But it often results in just paving the cow paths, leading to the lowest benefit and highest frustration.

Transformation is not about the technology, rather it focuses on problems and capabilities. It requires a vision for the future and commitment at all levels. The entire governance team must be dedicated to continuous improvement and value realization. Patients are the focus, not the systems. Of course health IT is the enabler, just not the main focus.

“Great technology is not enough. Transformation requires leadership.”

Dr. Levin closed the presentation with one key piece of advice for changing the organizational structure to support transformation. Create a new leader in the organization – CMIO 2.0. This new version of the CMIO would have expanded scope, beyond medical informatics and focused on the full continuum of care. This CMIO would not report to the CIO, but would instead be an integral part of the executive team.

Referring back to the chart above, the CMIO has the unique perspective to not be so focused on the capabilities on the IT team but rather to be focused on strategic and leadership skills necessary for transformation rather than implementation. CMIO 2.0 could be the missing leader required to transform provider organizations.

Read additional session reviews from the 2014 Regional HIMSS Regional conference.