The Case for Clinical Leadership in Healthcare IT

Hats off to Dr. Barry Chaiken for his thoughtful op-ed piece, "The Pied Piper of Clinical IT", in this week's Healthcare's Most Wired On-line Magazine

Dr. Chaiken rightfully points out the importance of clinical leadership and consideration of clinicians in any project that touches patient care. The literature is loaded with examples of colossal projectfailures when IT departments don't account for the impact on clinicians and clinical work-flow.

Ideally, any project that involves behavioral or work-flow changes for clinical staff must start with a deep analysis by clinicians for clinicians. That's why I've always been such a strong proponent for the role of Chief Medical Information Officer. We need more clinicians to step up and take on leadership roles in clinical IT. In my experience, the most successful implementations of EMR or clinical information system solutions have occurred in institutions that not only have excellent IT governance in place (to control project creep), but also have someone in the role of Chief Medical Information Officer. Preferably, the CMIO reports directly to the CEO and not the CIO. This creates a balance of power and ensures that clinicians have an equal voice when it comes to determining the solutions they'll be using.

Clinicians are information workers. In fact, their work literally defines "information worker". They deserve powerful information workers tools to allow them to access, analyze, document and disseminate information. These tools must be so intuitive they require very little training. They must accommodate a range of data input options, such as keyboard, digital inking, voice and click. They must extend to mobile scenarios and devices. They must be built using open standards for interoperability, and be affordable. Most importantly, they must exceed expectations in meeting the clinical work-flow requirements of clinicians and genuinely improve the safety and quality of patient care.

Bill Crounse, MD, Global Healthcare Industry Manager, Microsoft Healthcare and Life Sciences