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A Brave New World of Connectivity

June 8, 2010
by Jennifer Prestigiacomo
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Web-Exclusive Interview: Keith Figlioli, Senior Vice President, Healthcare Informatics, Premier Inc.

(Part One)

Keith Figlioli is senior vice president of healthcare informatics at the Charlotte, N.C.-based health alliance Premier Inc. He is currently leading Premier's new initiative to help its member hospitals integrate and strategically leverage their performance data to succeed under healthcare reform. Figlioli spoke recently with HCI Associate Editor Jennifer Prestigiacomo regarding that effort. Below is part one of that two-part web-exclusive interview.

Healthcare Informatics: Premier recently invested $86 million as a part of a strategic plan to enhance its informatics products and services. Can you tell us more about the investment and to what the funding will go towards?

Keith Figlioli: Premier has a strong legacy in building informatics offerings across all its different business units, including our sourcing, supply chain, quality, labor and consulting businesses. Given the nature of the alliance we have a lot of data coming in and out the organization. Most of the applications over the last 15 years have been built from the ground up and they have been very siloed in nature, very similar to our hospitals. A big part of the investment is a transition from a bunch of different applications to a data platform able to support the alliance and day-to-day member needs. It’s really building upon what we have today and trying to make a better linkage of the information we have and building up a new architecture. It’s also flexible with the infrastructure investments that our members are making. As folks start building out EMRs and HIEs and embedding those across the communities, we’ll also be flexible enough to pass our information to our members.

For instance, if you want to understand your spend on catheters, we can tell you that. As healthcare reform takes hold and as organizations start transitioning, you get into many more complex questions. If you want to understand more general population health questions like how can I [employ] resource utilization for all catheters for CHF (congestive heart failure) patients in a community, that’s a very different level of analysis, and you understand you have to start connecting these pieces.

HCI: How will this investment impact your member CIOs?

Figlioli: I think we’re embracing the CIOs agenda a lot more with this investment. Given that I spent [several years at the Atlanta-based] Eclipsys [Corp.], I have a pretty good idea of the CIO agenda and how meaningful use is impacting that agenda. The biggest problem we’ve got in this industry, even with meaningful use, is that all of the [information] systems are pretty inflexible today. The lion’s share of the reason why the processes are adopted the wrong way is because of lack of flexibility in these systems. A large part of what we’re trying to do is make that platform a lot more flexible. One instance is if someone from a small- to medium-sized hospital wants all our infrastructure, they can take all of that from Premier. If they want a module of that infrastructure, we make it service-based enough so they can adopt a portion of it.

Part two of this interview will appear next week.