The transformation of HIPAA from a toothless herbivore into a fierce meat-eater began with a few high-profile prosecutions that concluded in significant fines. Since that time, the government has been working to add ever more claws to this growing beast. The most recent of those has been an accounting of disclosures NPRM, which seeks to define exactly what type of information a patient is entitled to regarding access to their EHR after their hospital stay. The NPRM created a firestorm of response, largely critical, due to the onus it would place on IT and compliance departments. But more than this one rule, healthcare organizations can see the writing on the wall, with CIOs understanding that security needs to be shored up, quickly and efficiently. To gauge what others are doing with respect to staff education on the dos and don’ts of security, Albany Medical Center EVP/CIO Buddy Hickman issued a survey to his fellow CHIMErs. To learn more about his motivation for issuing the survey, the results, and how he plans to turn lessons-learned into policies, healthsystemCIO.com caught up with the New York-based CIO.
- Buddy’s main projects
- Fitting it all in
- Managing new construction
… what I’m spending additional time on right now, which I see as a little more far-reaching, is what we’re trying to do with our clinical data warehouse. And that involves what we do with the clinical data once we have it, and how we make it more readily understandable and available.
I’m also spending quite a bit of energy with a number of outside players around how does this thing called NHIN Direct really work and can we get it to move from kind of an experimental place to a production state …
Guerra: We’ve talked about the idea of finite resources and all the things being thrown at the industry. So, before we get into that, what are the top things on your plate as CIO? Obviously, IT security is one of them.
Hickman: Well, that’s a big question, Anthony. I would say IT security is one of many things that the CIO has to be concerned with. In my organization, certainly, having an eye on our missions and all the things that we need to do, both strategically and tactically, is critical. So I’m spending a lot of time and energy today on the continued evolution and deployment of our electronic health record capabilities. There are lots of other underlying blocking and tackling systems that are getting a lot of care.
But we’re also doing a lot of other things too. For instance, this summer we opened up a simulation center in the medical college. We have one of the only ones in the country whereby clinicians can come in and have an educational experience with what we call standardized patients, whether they are actors or whether they are physiologically correct manikins. IT played a significant role in putting all of that into place.
I think what I’m spending additional time on right now, which I see as a little more far-reaching, is what we’re trying to do with our clinical data warehouse. And that involves what we do with the clinical data once we have it, and how we make it more readily understandable and available.
And I went to our operational folks and folks who are on clinical research side of things so we learn from what we have and to improve the care practice, not only for us but for others as a matter of research.
I’m also spending quite a bit of energy with a number of outside players around how does this thing called NHIN Direct really work and can we get it to move from kind of an experimental place to a production state so that we can do EHR-to-EHR exchange with open standards across a number of EHR vendor products using services out there on the Internet.
Guerra: CIOs today are phenomenally busy. Do you have any philosophies around managing your time that you can share with your colleagues?
Hickman: I just say time management is critical and busy people are busy. Like everyone else, I worry about managing my time. I say, ‘yes’ too often because I figure that somehow, somewhere, I will squeeze it all in. But it’s also important to realize that you can’t put all these things in (scheduled) boxes and manage everything that way. In the end, you’ll figure out what the right things are and you’ll find your equilibrium.
Guerra: But you’re not staying at the office till ten o’clock every night?
Hickman: I’m not doing that these days.
Guerra: Good. So you delegate when you have to?
Hickman: Yes — I’ve got a great team of people surrounding me and a great team of folks that work for me. And I’d say we all carry the weight together. Everybody does a little bit differently, but we’re figuring out how to make it work. So, yes, I think that’s how we find balance.
Guerra: Good. That’s one of my goals — to make sure CIOs don’t become workaholics.
Hickman: I see that in some of your surveys.
Guerra: Well, I just care about people, Buddy, you know. I’m a very caring person. (laughing)
Hickman: Yeah, I know that about you. (laughing)
Guerra: Anything else you want to touch on from the survey? You did mention before we started our call about a new building going up in your organization.
Hickman: Yes, we do have a major expansion occurring on our campus. It’s a great thing to be in growth mode. We are building out in areas like ICU and med-surg. Those are the things that make us unique to this region, in terms of the services we deliver. And we believe those things are continuing to grown in proportion to this region’s needs. Obviously our hands are in the middle of that from an information technology standpoint. I’m just happy to be a part of it.
Guerra: Well, that was all I have for you today, Buddy. I want to thank you. As always, it’s very enjoyable to chat with you.
Hickman: Anthony, it’s always good to get together with you too.
Guerra: And you have a wonderful day. I’ll talk to you again soon.
Hickman: You too.