Healthcare IT: What every provider needs to worry about

Carl Natale
by Carl Natale

Managing HIPAA 5010, Meaningful Use and ICD-10 implementation projects is enough to strain just about any healthcare provider. But the challenges go a little deeper than that.

John Halamka, CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and CIO at Harvard Medical School, takes the time to  list the 10 healthcare IT challenges that will keep him up at night in 2012. While Halamka is in charge of a major hospital, there are some takeaways that medical practices of all size should note:

ICD-10 Implementation

"ICD-10 implementation is required by October 1, 2013 and I've written about those challenges.  Billions will be spent, many healthcare IT projects will be deferred for the next 2 years, and the end result will be no cost savings (coding costs are likely to increase 50%), no quality improvement, no increased safety, and no efficiency gains.  If we complete the ICD-10 project on time, no one will notice, but customers will all be angry at the IT department (and the CIO) for the work on other projects that was deferred."

It's one of those all risk, no reward situations. Healthcare providers need to make this work just to keep the reimbursements that they have.

Storage Growth

BIDMC has an extreme need for data storage. Small medical practices can't relate. But if Meaningful Use is achieved, eventually you will run out of computer space. You need to ask your vendors how to handle that.

Vendor Product Quality

Speaking of vendors, Halamka lists why several vendors have disappointed him lately.

Analytics/Business Intelligence

Halamka has a five-point plan to analyze and use data in 2012. Every healthcare provider is going to need to have some plan. Just using electronic medical records and complying with federal regulations won't be enough.


This needs to be part of everything that is done. Data thieves can make a lot of money from the smallest medical practices. Apply the same care to computer usage that clinicians apply to sterilizing instruments.