CIOs, Senior Executives Get Guidance in Adopting Electronic Health Records


In an effort to help chief information officers and executives across the United States implement electronic health records, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives has released a guide that provides a plan on how IT executives can establish a robust foundation for their organization’s IT systems to meet the meaningful use requirements issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Titled “The CIO’s Guide to Implementing EHRs in the HITECH Era,” the guide tackles the important steps healthcare organizations have to take to  successfully implement electronic health records, from the initial planning through the final documentation of results.

Based on research involving nearly 170 CHIME members who provided input on real-world experiences of planning for and implementing electronic health records in their organizations, the guide provides new direction on the best practices for successful EHR adoption.

The plan suggests executives should first assess incentives for meaningful use and weight them against costs. However, organizations should avoid viewing EHR implementation as pure cost-benefit calculation as EHRs will be a vital foundation for a healthcare organization that wants to thrive. Instead of focusing on pure ROI calculation, CIOs should ask how much it would cost to accelerate our progress, and if that was done, will we qualify for a larger incentive or avoid penalties?

Senior executives should discuss the current state of IT and how far along their organization is in adopting clinical systems. They also need to decide how to manage the effort and the interdependencies across the organization, including where additional projects must be sponsored or chartered. It is also crucial that an organization first develops a comprehensive IT strategic plan that is aligned with the organization’s strategy. If the organization relies on an IT vendor, it should share gap analysis with it and get quotes to fill those gaps.

To successfully implement EHRs, the CEO and the senior executive team must fully support the organization’s efforts in a adopting a new system. While there is no one right way to implement EHRs, it appears as if the complete support from senior executives will make the transition smoother. Senior executives should set vision and lead the change to EHRs.

When it comes to adhering to the meaningful use rules, providers will need to demonstrate their compliance with the requirements. In some cases, that involves collecting data, a task what is expected to fall on the organization’s IT department. In this case, senior executives will have to depend on CIOs for guidance on data collection efforts needed to substantiate the achievement of meaningful use.

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  1. The move toward electronic health records is great in many ways, but it’s no secret that storing personal and confidential information electronically will pose a host of new issues. These guidelines for the CIOs and CEOs are a great start for organizations looking to make the changes.

    I completely agree that the most important step in this process will be to create a strategic plan for IT. Having this plan in place will ensure that the organization is entirely compliant and that security is the top priority. Having a comprehensive security strategy that includes an IT asset management software solution is key.

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