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Information Requirements for the Competitive Healthcare Marketplace

November 18, 2014
by Tonya D. Edwards, M.D.
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Strategies from the Scottsdale Institute 2014 Fall CIO Summit

CIOs of eight leading healthcare organizations convened on Sept. 12 for the annual Scottsdale Institute CIO Summit. This year’s theme, Information Requirements for the Competitive Marketplace, yielded lively discussion. In the session, the group shared strategies, tactics and insights for emerging informatics requirements in the healthcare space, along with insights regarding the skill set that CIOs will need to lead organizations through the sea change occurring in healthcare. This report highlights the key themes and specific strategies employed by the organizations represented in the summit and is intended to help other providers plan for success.

The traditional healthcare landscape is rapidly transforming and competition is intensifying as competitors from more customer-savvy industries like retail and technology invade the health space, rolling out innovative new products and services and competing with low price points and expertise in consumer behavior. Large employers are increasing their direct contracting with “Centers of Excellence” as well as local systems in an effort to get the best quality care for the lowest healthcare dollar.

The healthcare sector is responding, and many medical groups, independent physician associations (IPAs), hospitals, and health systems will continue to merge or be acquired in order to gain increased access points, greater critical mass, population health management knowledge, and a stronger presence in geographic areas. There is continued strong focus on physician engagement and alignment as well as joint accountability with physicians, either through employment or a multitude of other strategies. Innovative partnerships are emerging and some established provider systems are now entering the insurance business to compete for healthcare dollars that were previously reserved for insurers.

The challenges this transformation in healthcare raise for CIOs are formidable, and were the topic for this year’s Scottsdale Institute Fall CIO Summit, Information Requirements for the Competitive Marketplace, which was sponsored by Impact Advisors, LLC, Naperville, Ill. Eight CIOs from leading healthcare organizations spent the day sharing their insights and outlining some of their biggest challenges and strategies they are employing to succeed in the face of those challenges.

Together, the CIO group represents $50 billion in annual net-patient revenue, 264 hospitals, 1,900-plus care sites and nearly 13,000 physicians in either an employed or foundation model in more than 30 states. They comprise a diverse group of organizations across the country. Although their organizations are quite diverse, the challenges they face in today’s market place are not. Throughout the day there was surprising consensus around the most pressing or difficult challenges they face.

This report highlights these CIOs’ key insights regarding their top challenges in today’s marketplace and strategies these thought leaders are employing to help their organizations succeed.


In recent years, retail, banking and real estate have combined social media, mobile and cloud technologies and analytics to offer an unprecedented level of customer service. This has fostered development of empowered consumers, who now expect the health industry to follow suit. Consumers want affordable and convenient care alternatives with people and technology closer to home or work.

Not only that, but consumers want to be able to comparison shop. The pace of price transparency is picking up as more employers are offering only high deductible plans and are putting more of the responsibility for controlling medical costs on the employee. Patients are also clamoring for quality data to make the best choices, and the days when a health system can rest on its community reputation for having good quality are nearing an end.

In the face of growing consumerism in the healthcare market, the CIOs offered the following strategies.

Consumer Strategies

Focus on Patient and Family Experience: In order to compete, organizations are placing strong focus on patient and family experience, and patients want convenience, choice, access and affordability. This represents a significant paradigm shift from provider-centric care to patient or consumer-centric care. It is not easy, and often one of the biggest challenges for the CIO and other operational leaders is the cultural changes required in the institution to accomplish this. The need for a consumer officer within organizations to own and drive this change was a sentiment echoed across the room. “At Sutter,” said Jonathan Manis, CIO of Sutter Health, Sacramento, Calif., “an entire new organizational design is in the works to address this important trend.”

Jonathan Manis

Marcus Shipley, CIO at CHE Trinity Health, Livonia, Mich., noted that “shifting to being consumer-centric is a whole different way of thinking about providing services. Access, communication and coordination are key to the consumer experience strategy.”

Moving to being consumer centric is a big cultural change for doctors in particular. Several CIOs have implemented services intended to help the organization become more consumer-centric only to have them not embraced by physicians. Robert Eardley, CIO at Houston Methodist, Houston, Texas, noted that at his system there is a very engaged Patient Experience Council, but to date it has been very acute care focused. “We need to move in the direction of non-acute, including consumer apps like FitBit,” he said.


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