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10 pearls of wisdom from a veteran CIO

Andy Fowler, vice president of information systems at Atlantic General Hospital (Berlin, Maryland, U.S.A.), has seen a lot of changes in Information Technology during his 40-year career. Since 1985 most of his work has been in health care. Fowler sat down with us at our annual user conference, the Allscripts Client Experience (ACE), to share his thoughts about Sunrise by AllscriptsTM and Health IT.

Here are 10 insights Fowler shared with us:

1. “Automation shines a spotlight on processes that just don’t make sense.” Fowler acknowledges that sometimes the organization is grateful to find these opportunities. Other times people who own these processes don’t want to fix them.

2. “We call them disruptive technologies for a reason: They disrupt current practice. But a lot of times current practice is not the best way to do business.” For example, in a previous organization Fowler worked for, physicians commonly complained about the timeliness of receiving results. New disruptive technology streamlined an average wait time of 96 hours to about 15 minutes.

3. “Atlantic General is a small hospital that thinks big, which is why I chose to work here…Allscripts meets the needs of a small system and can scale to meet the needs of larger systems as well.”

4. “When I first put in new technologies – and I’ve been doing this a long time – my face is on every dartboard in the organization. But within a year, if the system goes down, the users are screaming for it to get fixed.”

5. “Now it can be tough to get people to change. The challenge for the younger crowd of CIOs is keeping up with the younger crowd of clinicians….we’re jumping into a generation that wants as many disruptive technologies as you can bring them.”

6. “The world of information as it applies to medicine is enormous…clinical systems support the ‘science’ of medicine, which frees up the clinician to practice the ‘art’ of medicine.” Clinicians can’t keep up with every medical advance, which is why it’s important to have good clinical decision support.

7. “Sepsis is a supreme example of why automation is so powerful.” Because clinicians must recognize the signs of sepsis within six hours to help the patient, it is difficult to effectively monitor patients in a paper-based system. Fowler helped write one of the first sepsis routines in an automated environment. (Read more about technology preventing sepsis here: Why an adjustable EPR is the best defense against sepsis)

8. “Patient safety and quality comes first. But advanced clinical outcomes such as lowering length of stays and raising case mix indexes creates additional financial margin. That’s not why we’re in health care, but it helps us stay in the business of health care.”

9. “What do I want from technology going forward? I want a simplified, unified source of data…I want platforms that simplify the process of getting analytics to properly manage population health…Allscripts is on track with this.” Fowler was especially impressed with the addition of the dbMotion™ Solution to Allscripts suite.

10. “I stayed with health care because I’m helping make a difference…I’m adding birthdays to people’s lives.”

Which of these observations resonate with you? Are there others you would add? Please share in the comments below.

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