Healthcare provider CEO – a perspective on IT

Attended the 16th Annual Conference of the Healthcare Informatics Society of Ireland (‘HISI’) today.  Excellent keynote from Michael Dowling, President and CEO of the North Shore -LIJ Health System USA.

He made some opening remarks about a number of the key drives for change in the US: consolidation (insurers and providers), budget issues, healthcare reform movement.

WRT to IT he claimed to have seen less progress than he would have expected (given that Healthcare is one of the most technologically advanced industries) – probably because (1) fragmented healthcare industry and (2) lack of great products.

He argues strongly for a subtantial commitment to IT – if providers want to trak outcomes and to manage the continuum of care.  He is looking for his investment in IT to generate quality, productivity and efficiency – with better outcomes for the patient.

He had some interesting views on RoI and investment in information technology.  Quick RoIs do not occur – and people too often build false expectations.  IT will not solve the healthcare cost problems. These are down to technological advancement, democratisation of advertising by pharma, demographics (in 100 years we have added 35 years to the average life), life style/ behaviour (e.g. child obesity).  Many of these issues are not being addressed at the right level.

Mr Dowling made a number of other observations:

  • need to move from pay for service (ie volume) to pay for value
  • IT must be used to connect different providers right across the contuum e.g. hospitasls, socil services, ancillary services
  • important to implement systems which do notlock people into doing what they are doing today
Finally Mr Dowling reminded all of us about the risks of losing the human factor though over dependence on technology.  He expressed his frustration tihw so much unproductive email (referecing the quote ‘the problem with communication is thinking it has occurred’).
Al in all an excellent key note from a CEO committed to investing in information technology to improve patient outcomes.  And a CEO who is very upbeat – in spite of the current economic challenges in all markets.