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Ep. 67: Beth Israel Deaconess' Dr. John Halamka on the Evolving Role of the CIO

Published on 3/20/2018

As health IT has evolved, so has the role of the CIO. Today, a health care organization’s chief information officer must be prepared to meet changing organizational, clinical and population health-related demands with increasingly capable and innovative technology. 

Less than a decade ago, 9 out of every 10 physicians in the U.S. updated their patients’ health records on paper charts. In part thanks to the introduction of meaningful use in 2009, electronic health record (EHR) systems have been widely adopted and have transformed health care – and by the end of 2017, approximately 90 percent of physicians across the country were using EHRs.

With EHR adoption came the influx of big data, there have come questions around data access rights and a heightened need for interoperability. These concerns and more sit at the feet of the modern CIO. 

In this episode of The Cerner Podcast, we’re joined by Dr. John Halamka, the CIO and the CMIO at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Dr. Halamka joined Beth Israel Deaconess in 1998 as the Chief Medical Information Officer, and today is responsible for the IT strategy, security and operations there. In this episode, he discusses some of the top issues CIOs and CMIOs are facing in today’s marketplace. 

Dr. Halamka answers the following questions: 

  • You’ve spent about 20 years in the role of CMIO and CIO at Beth Israel Deaconess. This has given you an active part in the evolution of health IT over the last two decades and how your organization has adapted to its rapid growth and incorporated changes. Will you share some of your insights with us, given your background? What are some of the most significant changes that have rocked health IT, and what does that say about the state of the health care industry today?
  • Cloud computing was a big topic across the health care industry in 2017, and we’re seeing that trend continue into this year. From your perspective, discuss some of the benefits of and barriers to cloud computing. How have you addressed the cloud at Beth Israel Deaconess, and how do you expect this trend to evolve over the next year and beyond? 
  • Hospitals and health care systems are facing increased demands on workflow redesign and automation. What are some of the technologies today that you see helping to address this need? 
  • In 2017, you co-authored a book called Realizing the Promise of Precision Medicine, merging your experience as a physician with your expertise as a CIO and exploring the intersection of patient data, mobile technology and consumer engagement. I’d like to offer listeners a teaser of that book – could you give us an idea of some of the present limitations around precision medicine and how to overcome them?
  • We’ve covered a great deal of topics in this episode. I’m hoping we can pull things back up for a moment and go broad. Understanding, of course, that the responsibilities of the CIO and CMIO grow larger seemingly with each week, what do you believe should be the top priorities for health care leadership in 2018?

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