Health care I.T. executives weigh in on their top
wish list items for 2013. By Gary Baldwin
What CIOs Want
Imagine if Macy’s had a special Health I. T. Executive Day at its celebrated Santa booth. The line would be as long as the wish lists would be varied. After all, the health care industry spans everything from tiny critical access hos- pitals to sprawling academic medical centers. While no two providers are alike in their I. T. footprints,
everyone longs for regulatory relief in one form or another (see related
story, page 26). Following are the wishes and concerns of a widely dis-
parate group of HIT leaders during the holiday season.
Name: Michael Krouse
Title: Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer
Organization: Ohio Health, Columbus
Wish List Items: Virtual Desktop, Natural Language Processing
One thing Michael Krouse does not wish for is another hospital to oversee. He’s got a full plate now, as Ohio Health spans 17
hospitals, employs some 500 physicians, and maintains affiliate relationships with another 2000. The $2.5 billion health system runs a
McKesson EHR at eight of its inpatient facilities with its ambulatory
practices running on either GE or athenahealth. Several of the hospitals run under co-management agreements, and maintain their
own I. T. infrastructure, Krouse says. The system is moving ahead full
bore into the digital era, as several of its facilities are now all-digital
operations, with no paper charts present.
Like many CIOs, Krouse cites regulatory certainty as his top wish
list item for 2013. Closer to home, the CIO’s top need is what he calls
“the extension and maturity of the virtual desktop.” Ohio Health has
taken a step in that direction already, by converting many desktops
to a virtual environment in which monitors function much like the
dumb terminals of the past. Rather than having software loaded locally, the monitors connect into a central server where core applications are run.
The problem, Krouse says, is that many applications are not designed to run well in such environments. And beyond connecting
to standard workstations, Krouse would like to open up his network
to whatever devices clinicians feel most comfortable using, be they
iPads or smartphones.
“I would like to open up our infrastructure to become more device agnostic,” he says. “I don’t want to limit devices, but I would like
to expose our applications without exposing our security.” To that
end, Krouse longs for mature access management tools, software
that could regulate and monitor network access and grant it based
Software vendors lag when it comes to adapting their applica-
tions to run in virtual environments, he says. “Our legacy apps are
about 75 percent compatible with a virtual environment, but not in
a well-orchestrated way,” he says.
“They are compatible in that we can figure out a way to make it
work. But we don’t want to support PCs and desktops. We want to