If there’s one thing that was clear at the CHIME-HIMSS CIO Forum, held last week in Las Vegas, it’s that CHIME has set some pretty lofty goals.
The organization recently announced a partnership with OpenNotes designed to accelerate data sharing between patients and providers, participated in the White House Precision Medicine Initiative Summit, and was one of many health IT entities that pledged to work with the federal government to implement core principles aimed at improving health information exchange. And that’s in addition to launching the National Patient ID Challenge, an initiative that has already drawn strong interest both within and outside of the industry.
It’s all part of CHIME’s vision to build “exceptional leaders transforming healthcare,” and it’s going to require a high level of engagement among the 1,800 members across the world, many of whom are already challenged with competing priorities. So how are these busy leaders going to carve out time to help solve the industry’s biggest problems?
That’s where Marc Probst comes in. Starting his term as CHIME Board of Trustees Chair in January, he has made it a primary objective to increase engagement among the organization’s membership, and to bring some of the innovative spirit that is alive and well at Intermountain Healthcare, where he has served as CIO since 2003.
And in fact, it was Probst’s “deep passion to change healthcare for the better” that made him a strong fit for the role of Chair, according to CHIME President and CEO Russ Branzell, who believes Probst will be a “great champion” as the organization moves forward with its mission to advance the role of CIOs and other senior health IT leaders through education, collaboration, and advocacy. Probst, who had previously spent time as a partner both with Deloitte Consulting and Ernst & Young, faces a significant hurdle in boosting engagement among CHIME membership, of whom just 42 percent take advantage of its educational, networking, and collaborative offerings, according to the organization. But if anyone is up to the task, it’s Intermountain’s longtime CIO.
During the CHIME-HIMSS Forum, Probst sat down with healthsystemCIO.com to chat about what he hopes to accomplish in his new role, what he believes he can bring to the table, and his call to action for CIOs.
Q&A With Marc Probst, CHIME Board of Trustees Chair
Gamble: First off, congratulations on being named CHIME Board of Trustees Chair. What do you hope to accomplish in this role?
Probst: We need our membership to be more engaged. You saw the statistic that 42 percent are taking of really any of the services we provide, and that needs to change, because the value comes from having more of us engaged. This is unlike any professional organization I’ve been part of, because there really is a need for very timely information. The industry is changing so rapidly, and the technology we deal with is changing so rapidly, and so the more we can bring in and engage our membership and gather that information and disseminate it, the better off we’re all going to be. That’s really what I’d like to continue to focus on this year.
Gamble: What do you think is the biggest barrier as far as members not taking advantage of services? Is it a matter of CIOs being busier than ever, or are there other factors?
Probst: Time is one thing, and it’s clearly as issue, as well as budgets. Not everyone can fly out to Phoenix to attend the Fall Forum. But there are other ways to get engaged, including our KnowledgeHub platform. The goal is to make platforms like this as useful as possible to CIOs and keep conversations going, even when we’re not in the same room. And like I said, I think time is an issue, but a really strong platform for allowing people to share is going to be useful, and is going to enrich all of us.
Gamble: And of course we’re talking about a unique industry where people from competing organizations are willing to share with each other.
Probst: Right, and as you see consolidation in the industry, which I think we will continue to see, they’ll even have fewer competitors in a market, and we just have to work together to solve our country’s problems.
Gamble: One of those problems, of course, is patient identification. A few years ago, it was a subject no one wanted to broach, and now it’s taken a huge leap, and CHIME has played a big role in that.
Probst: Timing is everything, right? When you talk about the national patient ID, a fraction of the country had an EHR five years ago, and it was a much lower fraction of physician offices that did. Patients weren’t looking for portals and how they can self-manage. Nowadays everything is automated, and people intuitively get that systems have to be able to identify you and speak with each other, but getting to that point is a challenge. In working with the Federal government, it’s clear that everyone is really willing to have the conversation. We haven’t figured it out, but everyone understands it and wants to solve the problem, and that’s critical.
And I have to say that [National Coordinator for Health IT] Karen DeSalvo is doing a really great job. She’s limited as to what she can do and what she can say, but she’s supportive of us as an industry, and that’s really important to have her leadership.
Gamble: What do you see as being the next big goal for CHIME?
Probst: Outside of engagement and the national patient ID, we’re focused on our international efforts. Another thing I’ve learned — some of it through CHIME and some through my own experience — is that with financial systems, which is how we started in health IT, it was always a challenge because other countries pay differently, so there wasn’t a lot of synergy. However, with clinical systems, there’s a tremendous amount of synergy. We all provide clinical care and have the need to implement clinical systems and optimize them. The idea of CHIME being able to learn not just from systems in the US but also outside the US is really powerful. If you look at some of the European countries, they’ve nailed homecare. They’ve nailed some aspects of population health. And they may not use the same terms, but they’ve nailed the concepts, and we can learn from that.
I was just in Israel in December with CHIME, and what they’re doing with clinical systems — and at a fraction of what we spend in the US — is amazing. And so I think that’s going to be another key goal this year, and moving forward: how do we better unify as a world with what healthcare IT leaders are doing?
Gamble: Right. Now with you coming from Intermountain, where innovation is a big priority, how do you hope to bring that into this role?
Probst: Clearly as a cheerleader. I believe in innovation. I think it’s important. We haven’t figured out what needs to be done, even technologically, over the next 10 years. But we are doing a lot at Intermountain, and we’re trying to share some of that thinking — and more than anything, to gather more of that thinking so we can apply it at Intermountain and share it. I don’t think we want to be so arrogant as to say, ‘we are as good at innovation as people might think we are,’ but we’re trying, and we’ll keep doing it there. And I hope I can bring some of that thinking and some of that excitement to CHIME over the next year as the Chair.