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CHIME Board Member Indranil Ganguly: Time for CIOs to Deliver Excellence

April 27, 2015
by Mark Hagland
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During the CHIME CIO Spring Forum, held April 12 at Chicago’s McCormick Place, Indranil (Neal Ganguly), a CHIME board member, shared his perspectives on CIOs’ future

In November 2013, Indranil (Neal) Ganguly joined JFK Health System in Edison, New Jersey, as its vice president and CIO. Prior to that, he had been CIO at CentraState Healthcare System in Freehold, N.J., for 14 ½ years. JFK Health System encompasses a 400-bed acute-care hospital, long-term care facilities, physician group practices, and home health. At JFK Health System, Ganguly has been helping to lead his colleagues forward in a broad number of areas, from beginning to develop strong analytics capabilities, to meeting the requirements of meaningful use under the HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) Act.

Ganguly is also a member of the board of directors of the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), which held its CIO Spring Forum at the McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago on April 12. During a break in the proceedings on April 12, Ganguly sat down with HCI Editor-in-Chief Mark Hagland to discuss the issues facing his own organization and CIOs more broadly. Below are excerpts from that interview.

Looking at the landscape right now, what do you see as the biggest issues facing you personally as a CIO, and more broadly, the biggest issues facing U.S. healthcare CIOs?

Interoperability is immediately top of mind. The fact that we’ve got so many tools developed for separate needs, even some that have been elegantly developed, but the fact that it remains very challenging to exchange data even within our own organization, let alone with other organizations, is really the top challenge. Certainly the ways in which vendors have architected their solutions really have made this an ongoing top challenge for CIOs.

Indranil (Neal) Ganguly

The second issue that CIOs are facing has to do with consolidation. We’re seeing large health systems gobbling up the community hospitals. I think there’s a value proposition there, but there’s also a risk, in that healthcare delivery remains local, and how we protect and preserve that, is an issue. I’d also like to see us get out further into the community. Per Dr. Kraft’s presentation this morning [Daniel Kraft, M.D., a Stanford- and Harvard-trained physician-scientist with over 20 years of experience in clinical practice, biomedical research and innovation, had spoken on the topic of the explosion in consumer and other technologies, in his keynote address to CHIME CIO Spring Forum attendees that morning], I was very interested in that. But how do we make use of that data [data from consumer health devices and other devices functioning outside the realm of normal patient care organization activity]? We’ve been using the term ‘big data’ for years now, but few of us have really tackled the issues around big data. And, with regard to any lessons learned—how can the trailblazers make their insights available to the rest of us, so we can use them to help our communities? That’s one of the reasons I so like CHIME—that sharing that we do as fellow CIOs, with one another, in the association.

With regard to challenges around meaningful use specifically, where is your organization right now in terms of its meaningful use journey?

We attested for meaningful use last year; we’re still attesting this year under Stage 2; and we’ll be attesting to Stage 3 in 2016. We’re happy to see the 90-day proposed rule; I hope it sticks.

How difficult has it been to fulfill the meaningful use requirements, say on a scale of 1 to 10?

Between CentraState and JFK together, I would say probably a 5 out of 10. The fact that both organizations had already invested in the required technologies helped. It was not as heavy a lift as it might have been. And I think it added value to the healthcare system in pushing organizations that were behind the curve, move forward, including in potentially sharing information.

What have the biggest lessons learned been around meaningful use so far?

I would probably say that at the beginning, there wasn’t enough focus on interoperability. And the initial rules were specific, as opposed to being very broad and strategic. But it has been a massive undertaking that has been needed; and overall, a good job was done to get us where we need to be. And I don’t know how this has been compared to other industries in terms of receiving industry feedback; but I think that ONC and CMS [the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] have been responsive to industry concerns. There is this collaborative air around this from the federal agencies, and they’ve been trying to help us get there without breaking the spirit.

When you look at the next five years for CIOs, what do you see?

I really see the drive towards consumer-driven healthcare; as provider organizations take on more and more risk, we’ve got to rethink how we deliver medicine. And there are so many devices and technologies becoming available for use in healthcare, from Skype to wearables, to everything else. So we’ve got to focus on getting information into the home, and as Dr. Kraft said, we’ve got to become proactive rather than reactive; so I think we’ll see a sharp move in that direction in the next five years.

What are the biggest mistakes that CIOs are making these days?