Board Chair Liz Johnson on Future Directions in Healthcare

By Liz Johnson, MS, FAAN, FCHIME, FHIMSS, CHCIO, RN-BC, Chief Information Officer, Acute Hospitals and Applied Clinical Informatics, Tenet Healthcare


Every year provides opportunities to transform healthcare. As a CIO and the CHIME Foundation Board chair, I see healthcare IT professionals in all settings – provider, payer, industry and government –potentially being part of this transformation process. Here are some future directions to consider as 2018 unfolds.    

Access: I envision a world where access to healthcare occurs less in brick-and-mortar buildings and more in environments where people live, work and play. As a result, the information that supports care will be managed differently. This will require us to think differently, too. CIOs will need to look at and expand on where comprehensive data is collected, where it will reside and ensure it is a safe platform and made available to providers. Consider this a portal that is not a portal but a conduit for viewing in and viewing out, taking in and taking out, as necessary.

Security, accurate patient identification and other issues remain huge hurdles to making this vision a reality, but this shouldn’t stop us from developing and implementing solutions. This is a challenge that demands partnerships on many levels, but the benefits for patients will be immense.

Data science: Data is a powerful resource that we should employ now in a more comprehensive way to help clinicians make informed decisions tailored to each patient. It’s a simple formula: Take the data, look at the outcomes based on certain interventions and then change practice, promoting real-time safe, fast and efficient care.

We must continue to stay in front of policy makers and help them understand the value of data analytics and evidence-based care. We need to educate them about the consequences of decisions that raise barriers and impose regulatory burdens. We need to turn the process around: We show policy makers the data and processes that can save lives and then develop policy around THAT.

Payment systems: We need systems that focus on paying for preventive care and not just treatment after someone is sick. For a CIO, this means making data available for preventive care so clinicians and patients can work on maintaining health rather than treating illness. Industry partners will need to provide platforms that are user friendly and affordable for healthcare consumers. These payment systems should encourage patients to be more involved with their care, what they are paying for it and their options. 

The CIO of the future:  The CIO is evolving into a digital officer, a knowledge officer, or a combination of both. In these roles, CIOs will be looking beyond logistical data needs for a paperless system to a world where all data is useful. Exchange of information will occur in a wholesale way, using data in different formats universally instead of as one-offs.

Yet as our use of data becomes increasingly sophisticated and more complex, we will need to remember that sometimes the simplest things are the most effective – like washing hands between patients. It doesn’t have to be a major scientific breakthrough. Small things save lives, too.


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