Patient Engagement

HealthIT CIO Interview Series – Harun Rashid, VP of Information Services & CIO, Akron Children’s Hospital

Harun Rashid is passionate about the impact of health information technology for pediatric care, and sees his position being extremely rewarding in improving quality and safety, patient satisfaction, innovation and outcomes. In his past role at UPMC, with the help of telemedicine, he brought the level of care that healthcare delivery organizations were able to deliver domestically to other countries. He’s also leveraged patient engagement technology to reduce administrative burden on nurses and transform the pediatric waiting room experience at the hospital. And while he gets excited in delivering impactful technology to healthcare, he understands the huge concern of cybersecurity threats and the vigilance required to ensure the organization is in a defendable position to protect its assets, people and patients. In this interview, Rashid discusses physician burnout and efforts underway to evolve the EMR past being a billing system to be more intelligent and allow caregivers to make decisions properly, reducing alert fatigue, and enabling them to focus on the highest risk areas. He also discusses how population health management is very much front and center and initiatives in progress to incorporate Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) to identify community resources and amenities available to patients.

Key Insights:

I learned a lot from that experience as a data processing operator, running the back-end systems for a hospital in Meridian, Mississippi. You name it, I did it – the applications, load disks and tapes, run mainframe jobs, print patient bills, endpoints, and reports. I witnessed first-hand the complexity that is involved in running a hospital. EHRs were only used in less than 30% of hospitals in US at that time. Most non-healthcare businesses have maybe ten to fifteen systems they are running, whereas that is representative of just a particular department (i.e. laboratory, cardiology) in healthcare.

As with most healthcare delivery organizations, population health management is very much front and center for us, specifically with PCMH (Patient Centered Medical Home). Epic’s Care Everywhere plays a role in facilitating healthcare interoperability and the exchange of information between different institutions. It has alleviated the need for request for records, which in the past were delivered via fax or mail and were incomplete. It’s also allowed us to have a broader view of the patient’s medical history so that the appropriate level of care can be given regardless of how the patient has transitioned in or out of our hospital.

We can do a lot of the service recovery through patient engagement in the hospital if they have a negative experience. We are creating environment that is different, where we are leveraging patient engagement as a distraction technology to focus on the wellness aspect.

I’m a big believer that within five years or so, basic care will be given everywhere except in patients offices. There will be virtual care, patients will go to CVS or Walgreens to get their flu shots, maybe even for a well visit checkup. We’re really going to decentralize the model of care and the future of medicine as we know it is going to be very different in the next five years than it is today, especially with artificial intelligence, chat-bots, and virtual care gaining traction.To make matters more complicated, on one hand, the government and other entities say you need to share information, but on the other hand, if you have a breach, you  may be penalized severely. It’s a double-edged sword as you want to enable interoperability and health information exchange, but on the other hand, you have a responsibility to make sure that it is highly secure. It’s a challenging time when it comes to security and sharing, and we just have to find that happy medium.

Campbell: You have a very decorated background, as you’ve served in leadership capacities at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center), Rush Health Systems, Gateway Health Systems, Jefferson Regional Medical Systems, and now at Akron Children’s. With this background, can you tell me a little bit more about yourself and how you got into healthcare information technology?

Rashid: Right out of college, my first job was in healthcare and it was unbeknownst to me to at the time that I would be in healthcare for such a long time. I learned a lot from that experience as a data processing operator, running the back-end systems for a hospital in Meridian, Mississippi. You name it, I did it – the applications, load disks and tapes, endpoints, print schedules and bills, run mainframe programs, and reports. I witnessed first-hand the complexity that is involved in running a hospital. Most non-healthcare businesses have maybe eight to ten systems they are running, whereas that is representative of just a particular department (i.e. laboratory, cardiology) in healthcare. I learned a lot from that experience and it helped me grow within the organization to be Director of IT within four and a half years.

I subsequently took on a role at Gateway Health Systems in Clarksville, Tennessee and one of my chief responsibilities was the evaluation of an EMR and PACS solution. We put in place the first EMR and PACs system at the organization, which came with a lot of challenge. For instance, we had a radiology department that wasn’t fully bought-into a digital PACS. They hadn’t embraced technology, as films were the way they had done things traditionally and weren’t trained to leverage the technology or have IT so embedded in radiology systems. They came on board over time and loved it once we were live, ultimately taking control and ownership of it.

And so, the journey took me from there to doing Health IT strategic consulting, which allowed me to see the other side of how healthcare operates. Not with the day-to-day operations but looking at it from a strategic perspective as a consultant, helping CEOs and CIOs understand how to do analysis and strategically position IT to leverage its value to meet business objectives. A core philosophy I’ve always held is to align IT strategies with organization-wide strategies to make sure IT is supporting organizational mission and vision.

Campbell: You’ve also led the expansion of Children’s Global Health Program (Children’s Pittsburgh of UPMC) in several countries including Colombia, Mexico, Ecuador, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Dominican Republic, and the Middle East. Can you elaborate on your role with that organization and how it got you to your current position at Akron Children’s Hospital?

Rashid: When I joined UPMC, I started out as the CIO of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh that subsequently grew into managing the Children’s international program. I helped build their telehealth program in several different countries that allowed us to manage intensive care units or see patients in ICU units directly from Pittsburgh, without having to put physicians on the ground. It was a groundbreaking initiative, because at the time in 2010, physicians domestically didn’t view telemedicine to be revolutionary, and looked at it as unnecessary, thinking that patients preferred in-person visits.

I subsequently moved from that role into a corporate role, serving as Vice President for International Business Development and Telehealth at UPMC. My focus was going around the world and working with other health systems or government agencies to embed healthcare solutions or healthcare practices that would be at the level of standard that is in the United States. A lot of these government agencies or private entities were looking for partners to identify how they can improve their healthcare through utilization of U.S.-based physicians and using U.S.-based protocols in their local community to improve outcomes. We partnered in two ways – some physical presence on the ground, and through telemedicine as a vehicle to improve the outcome for transplant, oncology and other disciplines that were lacking in those countries. Instead of sending those patients overseas for treatment, we attempted to keep them in the community and only bring them to UPMC should they need care beyond what is possible locally.

This experience helped me tremendously in that it enabled me to better understand how to use technology to leverage the gaps in those communities, and how to take what they had in terms of EHR or other functions and bring that back in a fashion such that we’re able to integrate that into our guidelines and protocols. What was revealing was that most people thought that countries like Ecuador and Colombia were looking for high-end, specialty medical care, and they instead were looking for basic medical care and support. To provide a higher level of care, coordination was needed and so we performed physician technical training via video conference or other mechanism that IT setup to be able to enhance the experience. Through this use of telemedicine, our physicians were able to reduce post-surgical mortality by 8%-12% over the course of 24 months in Brazil and Colombia.

I then came to Akron Children’s Hospital, which is a very progressive, the largest independent hospital in north-east Ohio. Our organization has an end-to-end Epic EHR product and we have a vision of growing our IT to be the gold standard of the industry. I came here and along with our executive team, put the vision together to identify how we could leverage IT to meet the strategic goals of the organization.

Campbell: Speaking of achievement, you led Pittsburgh Children’s to HIMSS EMRAM Stage 7, the first pediatric hospital to achieve that and are on course to achieve the same at Akron Children’s What’s been your approach to physician adoption in leading the organization to that standard?

Rashid: We were awarded the HIMSS EMRAM Stage 7 at Akron Children’s in October.  I’ll talk about the methodology used when Pittsburgh Children’s went through the HIMSS EMRAM stage 7 journey in 2009. Things were very different back then. The goals and protocols were very different. It was more about the ability to digitally convert information from paper and certainly more focused on CPOE adoption. The requirements are much more stringent now. There were a lot of nursing adoptions and physician collaboration that needed to take place to be able to demonstrate that we were working as cohorts in improving the care of the patients, and quality and safety. There is continuous collaboration between IT nursing informatics, physician informatics, IS, and other departments. Analytics and innovation play a key role in the current requirements for a successful adoption.

Campbell: Outside of EMRAM criteria, a large area of focus in the move from fee-for-service to value-based-care, and certainly a focus of healthcare policy, is interoperability. In terms of facilitating care coordination through interoperability, can you touch on how you connect with affiliate practices in the community?

Rashid: We have a referral network of affiliated practices, some of which have a robust EMR, where we’ll offer them the opportunity to connect with Ohio’s HIE to get our data and vice-versa. If the practice is a standalone independent physician practice, we work with them to determine if they are interested in the Epic Community Connect Model supported by Akron Children’s Hospital IT. There are a few that are still using fax, which we are trying to move away from and connect them electronically.

Campbell: Population health is most certainly a part of the care coordination strategy. Could you touch on population health initiatives that are taking place within the hospital and particularly use of Epic’s Healthy Planet? Are there subsets or niche areas of PHM that are a specific focus for you, perhaps with the use of social determinants of health?

Rashid: In terms of social determinants of health, we recognize that 52% of our patients are Medicaid patients. As such, its critical for us to have insight into the social determinants for those patients and have a better understanding of how to address some of those elements where there are gaps. Our VP of Population Health, Dr. Steven Spalding has been working with other organizations, health systems, and community sites to make sure that patients have awareness of and access to the resources available to them, whether they need transportation, food, home care, shelter, etc. We recently adopted a system that allows us to identify community resources and amenities available to patients electronically. Our care coordination group uses the system to connect with those community organizations so that the patients are getting the proper level of support when they go back to their homes and communities.

As with most healthcare delivery organizations, population health management is very much front and center for us, specifically with PCMH (Patient Centered Medical Home). Epic’s Care Everywhere plays a role in facilitating healthcare interoperability and the exchange of information between different institutions. It has alleviated the need for request for records, which in the past were delivered via fax or mail and were incomplete. It’s also allowed us to have a broader view of the patient’s medical history so that the appropriate level of care can be given regardless of how the patient has transitioned in or out of our hospital.

Campbell: That point really resonates and is common to those healthcare delivery organizations taking part in PHM initiatives. You’re able to segment out those who may be at risk and assign them a care coordinator who identifies community groups and resources publicly available to them, and potentially prevent the patient presenting in a high acuity setting.

Rashid: That’s the thing. If we intervene ahead of some serious adverse event, we’re going to be able to do just that. That’s where telemedicine and other vehicles come into play, providing the ability to address the at-risk population and enable consultation for prevention. I’m a big believer that within five years or so, basic care will be given everywhere except in patients offices. There will be virtual care, patients will go to CVS or Walgreens to get their flu shots, maybe even for a well visit checkup. We’re really going to decentralize the model of care and the future of medicine as we know it is going to be very different in the next five years than it is today, especially with artificial intelligence, chatbots, and virtual care gaining traction.

Campbell: Absolutely and that decentralization would seemingly magnify the importance of centers of excellence in providing specialty care, whereas more general care is being commoditized. Shifting topics, how is technology playing a role in patient engagement efforts at your organization?

Rashid: We’ve delivered real-time integration with the EMR and caregiver, allowing the patient to engage with the care team to understand and identify ways to engage each other. We partnered with TVR (PCare) to manage our patient engagement. For instance, let’s say we have a child that presents at the hospital with asthma. We provide waiting area engagement such as TV, gaming, and a tablet for the parent with PCare on it. Based upon admission diagnosis of the patient and predefined guidelines from clinicians, the system can send videos that parents can engage in, so they can assist in better care of the patient once discharged. Once they do those things, that information can automatically be fed back into our EMR, thereby minimizing the amount of time the nurses spend documenting what is captured from the parents. We can do a lot of the service recovery through patient engagement in the hospital if they have a negative experience. We are creating environment that is different than the traditional systems. Our patient engagement is being used as a distraction technology to focus on the wellness aspect.

Campbell: You’ve touched on patient engagement, telemedicine, population health and social determinants of health. That said, what other initiatives are front and center for you that you hope to finish up or achieve before the end of the year?

Rashid: One of the things that’s very important to not just me, but all healthcare delivery organizations is cybersecurity. We’re tightening the belt more and more on what we must do. It is a very important initiative for us to ensure that we are resilient and vigilant in how we react to breaches as they take place. Every month I get reports of XYZ hospital that are being penalized for lack of proper security practices or negligence. Most of the security pitfalls are within the organization and its people that accidentally do something which creates problems for the organization.

We’ve already moved some of infrastructure to cloud technology as we couldn’t sustain the level of on-premise not only due to the greater costs associated with that approach, but because of cybersecurity as well. We just put our entire ERP on Amazon Web Services and we’re evaluating our portfolio to identify which solutions could potentially reside in the cloud to not only facilitate scalability, and reduction of cost, but also hardened security.

Another area of focus is analytics, specifically predictive analytics and artificial intelligence. The infusion of this capability is going to be a game-changer for our organization. When I talk about analytics, I’m talking about how we develop intelligent EMRs, not solely focused on billing. Evolving the EMR so that it allows our caregivers to make decisions properly, assists in clinical documentation, reduces alert fatigue, and enables them to focus on the highest risk areas. The documentation and charting associated with EMRs is creating significant burnout, and analytics and AI can play a role in engaging the physicians to address that issue and transform our EMR. For instance, Google is investigating doctors using natural language via Google mini in the exam room and having that get transcribed into a note. We are looking to pilot some similar concepts at Akron Children’s in the near future.

Campbell: Going back to the original point you made on security, you had authored a white paper with five steps for responding to hospital ransomware attacks. You mentioned having bad actors within the organization and a real easy thing to do is to send out a phishing email from the IT department. For those who do click, you can use it as a learning opportunity. What other advice can you impart?

Rashid: That is a technique we use. We continuously train our staff, but you’ll be amazed at how trusting people are sometimes. They have good intentions, just bad execution. They trust and click when we instruct not to. It must be a continuous cycle of education, practicing and repeating so that it becomes reflexive to check the originating email address and make sure none of the advanced flags are triggered. That said, attacks adapt and become more personalized where it is extremely difficult for a user to decipher the attack medium being used. HIMSS has also shifted their EMRAM standard to make it more rigorous in terms of the security aspect with Stage 7, and the cybersecurity aspect can’t be underscored enough. To make matters more complicated, on one hand, the government and other entities say you need to share information, but on the other hand, if you experience a breach, you may be penalized severely. It’s a double-edged sword as you want to enable interoperability and health information exchange, but on the other hand, you have a responsibility to make sure that it is highly secure. It’s a challenging time when it comes to security and sharing, and we just have to find that happy medium.

Campbell: A salient point to end on. Thank you so much for all the compelling insights that you offered up and best of luck with the remaining projects your wrapping up before year end.

About Harun Rashid

Harun Rashid serves as the Vice President of Information Service and Chief Information Officer at Akron Children’s Hospital where he is responsible for providing oversight and strategic planning services to Information Technology, Clinical Engineering, Health Information Management, Enterprise Data Warehouse, Clinical Informatics, Telecommunication, IT Clinical and Telemedicine. Rashid has over 19 years of experience in the information technology field of which 15 years have been dedicated to the healthcare industry.

Rashid has held several chief information officer positions in large scale healthcare integrated delivery networks at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center), Rush Health Systems, Gateway Health Systems and Jefferson Regional Medical Systems. He has also served as the Senior Vice President over Rural and Community division for Phoenix Health Systems hospitals nationwide.

Rashid has been essential in the expansion of Children’s Global Health Program (Children’s hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC) in several countries including Colombia, Mexico, Ecuador, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Italy, and the Middle East. Under his leadership, the telehealth program has grown regionally and internationally and includes agreements in Latin America and Europe. Children’s was one of the first to establish a telemonitoring service with an international hospital for eICU.

Through his work, Rashid has assisted health systems in achieving various national recognitions/designations. Rashid received a prestigious award from CIO Magazine as one of the Top 100 CIO in the country for the most innovative use of technology to support patient-care. In 2016, Children’s achieved the prestigious HIMSS Davis award for the use of electronic medical records (EMR) and analytics to enhance safety and quality. In 2018, Akron Children’s received HIMSS 7 award under Rashid’s leadership.

Rashid holds a Bachelor of Science in computer science and business management and an Executive Masters of Business Administration.

Is Salesforce Ripe for Partnership with Health Cloud as a Patient Relationship Operating System?

Its human nature to draw analogies from past disruptors and apply to parallels in other industries. After all, we take experiences and lessons from the past to derive inspiration for future innovation. It’s in this regard that pundits have pointed to ATMs as a model to solve for healthcare’s interoperability woes, or present MINT.com and Kayak as a model for the healthcare’s move to retail and consumerization. It’s also in this regard that Salesforce is used as an example for patient engagement for healthcare. However, unlike the other industry-specific disruptors, Salesforce’s model fits healthcare as well. But just because it fits on-paper, that doesn’t mean that Salesforce is ripe to disrupt healthcare. There is certainly a lot of inertia to overcome in healthcare information technology, as Chilmark Research was quick to point out after Salesforce Health Cloud was announced

After several years of circling the healthcare market, Salesforce finally announced its intent to formally enter the market this week with the announcement of Salesforce Health Cloud. Unlike other enterprise vendors who have jumped into this market, with Blue Ribbon advisory panels (Google Health), or series of acquisitions (IBM Watson Health, Intuit) or a mixture of both (Microsoft), this announcement by Salesforce had little in the way of any of these attributes to bolster its announcement.

Salesforce is taking a much more tentative and low risk approach to entering the healthcare market and will look to its expansive ecosystem of partners who will leverage Salesforce’s existing tools to create healthcare specific solutions and services.

-Salesforce Enters the Fray: Will They Succeed Where Others Have Failed? CHILMARK BIGHT, September 2015, Brian Murphy and John Moore

Salesforce touts Health Cloud as a vehicle to acquire and manage patient data from multiple sources, from electronic health records, to patient generated data through wearable fitness trackers. Salesforce has also positioned the application as a communications platform for patient engagement and care coordination, as well as a dashboard for outcomes management and population health. Sound like every other vendor touting themselves as a PHM solution? Chilmark takes a deeper look into strengths and weaknesses:

Salesforce won’t compete with established transactional systems, but rather be a front end, as it’s not interested in being an electronic medical record provider like EPIC. As Salesforce CMO Dr. Joshua Newman told MedCity News, he sees competition from three places: electronic medical records vendors, startups and analytics firms.

EMR vendors may be entrenched, Newman said, but “they’re never going to be Internet-focused and multi-tenant.” A multi-tenant approach typical of a cloud service like Salesforce helps manage patients seen by physicians with privileges at multiple hospitals, according to Newman.

HISTalk also offered an optimistic assessment of Salesforce, declaring Health Cloud “the most interesting product I saw at HIMSS.” Mr. H from HIStalk noted the following advantages Salesforce Health Cloud offers:

  • Existing EHRs and other healthcare software products are way behind the times in meeting new requirements for health systems to treat patients and doctors as customers and to build relationships with them, including patient engagement.
  • It lets health systems that are willing to change their relationships with patients and doctors to do so effectively, with strong analytics and communications.
  • It’s cloud-based and is purchased on a relatively inexpensive per-user, per-month price with no capital outlay.
  • It’s built on the standard Salesforce CRM that has been battle-tested for years, with just those customizations needed to make it work for healthcare.
  • It integrates with the EHR and other patient and provider data sources.
  • The Salesforce open ecosystem allows using third-party apps when needed.
  • It Includes tools that allow users to build their own rules and apps.
  • Salesforce is a juggernaut that can force EHR vendors to open up their systems to obtain the data it needs.
  • Salesforce isn’t Oracle or Microsoft – they didn’t create a healthcare-specific product from scratch or acquire a questionable one, so they have no incentive to rebalance their product portfolio and walk away from healthcare and leave users hanging as big healthcare toe-dippers tend to do.

Given the optimistic outlook, what does this mean for healthcare startups and entrepreneurs Salesforce represents a good horse to attach your cart to. We’ve witnessed a plethora of companies go at patient engagement with their own custom solution. This approach lacks scale, established technology, and is crowded with competition. Not to mention, the path to monetization and profit is muddy at best. Further, Salesforce has built a rich ecosystem of extensibility via its app marketplace. Some could argue that this is exactly what healthcare needs.

The content presented in the Health Cloud Integration eBook suggests that Salesforce is still in the somewhat nascent stages, with limited adoption outside of pilots. Despite this, HCOs who have implemented the platform, such as Cancer Treatment Centers of American (CTCA) have demonstrated tangible benefits. CTCA now uses Salesforce to improve service in three different areas: physician referral intake; a 24/7 contact center; and, patient communities. The result is a 60% productivity boost for their technical team. One of the benefits to patients is their community platform, built on Salesforce Community Cloud, that empowers patients and families to support one another, join groups, participate in local events, find educational resources, and chat in real time. In turn, CTCA benefits from an enhanced referral process that improves customer loyalty and provides another way to communicate with patients.

There are clear gaps to fill. As the saying goes, “if the doctor doesn’t use it, it doesn’t matter.” Insights must reach the point of care and not be disruptive to existing workflows, but rather enhance it. It’s in this vein that partners are needed build the detailed workflows to support patient and care team communications. Salesforce represents a great candidate to partner instead of going at the crowded patient relationship management and patient engagement space alone.

About Justin Campbell
Justin is Vice President, Strategy, at Galen Healthcare Solutions. He is responsible for market intelligence, segmentation, business and market development and competitive strategy. Justin has been consulting in Health IT for over 10 years, guiding clients in the implementation, integration and optimization of clinical systems. He has been on the front lines of system replacement and data migration, is passionate about advancing interoperability in healthcare and harnessing analytical insights to realize improvements in patient care. Justin can be found on Twitter at @TJustinCampbell and LinkedIn.

CHIME Fall Forum Interview Series: Daniel Morreale, Senior Vice President/CIO, Hunterdon Healthcare System

daniel-morreale-cio

Daniel Morreale, Senior Vice President/CIO, Hunterdon Healthcare System

Consolidation is big on the mind of the CIO Daniel Morreale, of Hunterdon Healthcare System. After inheriting the multi-system environment two years ago, he has been evaluating a rip and replace initiative, moving to one core system. That’s not the only change Morreale hopes to make at the healthcare system. He’s inspired by the world of social media and the connections it can extend. In this interview, Morreale talks about the “membership model” for healthcare he’s looking to implement; the ups and downs of data archival and storage; and Hunterdon’s current data governance strategy. He also shares his personal predictions for the future of healthcare and bringing the focus away from the toys and back to the people.

Be sure to register for an upcoming healthsystemCIO.com All Stars Panel Daniel is participating in on January 19th: “How to Ensure Your Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery Plan is HIPAA Compliant.”

CHIME Fall CIO Forum provides valuable education programming, tailored specifically to meet the needs of CIOs and other healthcare IT executives. Justin Campbell, of Galen Healthcare Solutions, had the opportunity to attend this year’s forum and interview CIOs from all over the country. Here is the next interview in the series:

Key Insights

If you’re in my system longitudinally, can I get rid of those lab results you had 8 years ago? No, and I think that’s a problem.

Then again we have to ask ourselves, how long do we keep our EMRs and is anybody running an EMR they were running 20 years ago? Chances are no.

But then in the event of legal action, if I have it I have to produce it, it’s discoverable. I would rather only present for discovery that which I’m required to present for discovery. If the data had been purged by policy and no longer there then I’m no longer responsible for producing it.

Most health systems tend to grow by buying physician practices or expanding their market, which is a pretty traditional means of doing that work. However, I think an extraordinarily strong mobile presence and web presence can start to attract the 20 and 30 year olds who aren’t really using healthcare now, who I want if I’m in a shared risk environment.

At the end of the day I’m doing healthcare and that’s about people. How do I make the experience easy for you and me, or family, and deliver quality, convenience, and access?

Campbell: Let’s start with a little background. Tell me about your organization and your responsibilities.

Morreale: Hunterdon Healthcare is the only hospital in the county, [located in Northwest New Jersey]. It was started in 1956, in an effort to improve the health of the population and community. As an organization we kind of have a 60-year head start on population health. It’s still a standalone facility, we have just under 200 inpatient beds, and do just under a million ambulatory visits a year.

Campbell: What are some of the initiatives you’re working on right now? What are some of the reasons that drove you to CHIME in terms of the learnings you expect to hear from your peers?

Morreale: The initiatives we’re working on in the healthcare system right now are dedicated to two propositions. One is to improve usability; how do I make the variety of systems we have more user friendly? And secondly, a consolidation effort; looking across our vast number of software tools and trying to consolidate them. Prior to my arrival at Hunterdon two years ago, every department bought whatever they wanted. As a result, I have 5 document management systems, 6 faxing software applications, etc. We’re trying to consolidate and replace with enterprise level tools when we can. Next year we’re going to start doing core replacements around our financial systems, and that’s going to be a rip and replace. We’re planning an initiative around creating an access center, i.e. one telephone call to concierge level service with the health system.

Campbell: Tell me a little about where archival fits into this. With the systems you look to replace, have you gone through that evaluation of migrating versus archiving?

Morreale: We have not, and for several reasons: A majority of the healthcare tools that are out there don’t have a good process for archiving, deleting, or massaging patient records, at least at the patient level, which is always a challenge. However, we do have criteria for retaining data, predicated on state and federal mandates. Right now everything is in a tiered data structure. Our more transactional data is on a state drive, our deeper archival data is on EMC, some IBM storage in the middle, but my intent is to go pure solid state. This will add cost, but increase retrieval speed and simplify the environment. But even in that environment I’m just continually adding and saving data. I’m never really deleting anything. So there are records that are 25 years old, that I no longer need, and I have no means of getting rid of them.

Campbell: Have you evaluated any archival solutions that are healthcare specific? Tell me about the challenges you see in the vendor marketplace for archival solutions.

Morreale: Well on the technology side, I think there’s a wealth of tools, but their weakness is in the healthcare applications. In my EMR I do not have the capacity to delete a record. I absolutely do not have the capacity to delete part of a record. If you’re in my system longitudinally, can I get rid of those lab results you had 8 years ago? No, and I think that’s a problem. It costs me money to store it, manage it and keep it secure. But then in the event of legal action, if I have it I have to produce it, it’s discoverable. I would rather only present for discovery that which I’m required to present for discovery. If the data had been purged by policy and no longer there then I’m no longer responsible for producing it.

Campbell: As part of the overall portfolio strategy, do you see yourself consolidating applications and migrating from one EMR to another?

Morreale: Eventually I think we’re going to have to, and we’re targeting 2020 or 2021 as the year to make that jump. That is my opportunity, and only opportunity, to clear records.

Campbell: Is there hope that in that time there are some advancements made?

Morreale: I think it would be nice, but I don’t see it happening, I don’t hear any vendors talking about providing tools that do that. Then again we have to ask ourselves, how long do we keep our EMRs and is anybody running an EMR they were running 20 years ago? Chances are no. I think over that course of time we generally take all we can from a product and at some point we start looking for additional functionalities, newer user interfaces, and more bells & whistles

Campbell: Shifting gears, what is your data governance strategy within the organization?

Morreale: Data governance is pretty straight forward. We have our applications tiered for priority, and as a result of that, the data is tiered. We ask the primary departments to be the titular owner of that data, in that the patient is the real owner. We look at IT services as being the police – the ones who stores it, protects it and keeps it under lock and key. When there is a challenge around data, it always manifests in reports: what is the length of stay in system A, is it not the same as in system B? With great effort, a year ago, we undertook building out a data dictionary. To this regard, I know that when I’m using field MX4233 in my EHR, I know it’s a patient address and that it is defined in this way. Then we’ve carried that across to the other clinical systems that have that data. It is by no means complete, it’s a continuous effort, and it’s massive with the 160 different systems. We really concentrated on those items that people are regularly reporting on. As such, when I produce an end of day admission report in system A it’s also the same in system B.

Campbell: What’s the vehicle or mechanism that you’re using?

Morreale: This is one of the examples where we built our own tool. We went out and created a data lake: we’re taking a snap shot of the data, putting in the data lake, normalizing it, and then consolidating all our reporting out of the data lake. So, at least my reports are more consistent than they were prior.

Campbell: Where do you see an opportunity for innovators in the vendor space?

Morreale: I think there’s opportunities in home health, which is pretty much owned by a few big companies with technology that’s a little dated.

I think there is a whole field of healthcare to be discovered in social media. How do we capture that? How do we integrate into that world? How do we use that to attract future patients? Most health systems tend to grow by buying physician practices or expanding their market, which is a pretty traditional means of doing that work. However, I think an extraordinarily strong mobile presence and web presence can start to attract the 20 and 30 year olds who aren’t really using healthcare now, who I want if I’m in a shared risk environment. Use that as a tool to create that sticky relationship between you and my health system so that when you do need our services, we’re the natural choice.

I think the value proposition around that has to be very high, but it’s certainly difficult to compute. We’re putting a lot of effort into that arena. My development team is looking at creating what we’re calling a ‘membership model’ for the health system.  It’s essentially taking the concepts around Netflix and American Express: you become a member, and incorporate that into how I deliver care. If I can convince you to be a member, I can give you one telephone call scheduling; I can stop leakage out of my physician offices by scheduling your next appointment as you’re walking out the door; or schedule that x-ray or that minor surgery you might need. I can broadcast educational information to your mobile or home device. I can create social platforms for you to talk to other people with your disease state. I can do all of those things as a background product, but at the same point I’m creating that sticky relationship between you and my health system.

We’re also looking at integrating wearable data. We are fortunate enough to be the in the healthiest and wealthiest county in New Jersey, so we think there’s the capacity to offer the service to our community: let us monitor your Fitbit or your wearable device data, tell you how you’re doing on your health effort, and give you an opportunity to earn points. We have a points program in our membership model – buying broccoli instead of bread; going to the gym –  those sort of things. And I think that kind of stuff is going to be more of my future than buying physician offices.

Campbell: There seems to be a diminishing return there or rather a saturation to that model.

Morreale: I think so. How many physician offices can you have in a community? How far can your reach go? If I’m doing it through mobile and social media, my reach is greater. I’m not limited to 20 miles or 25 miles. I can be attracting or engaging people who are 50-60 miles away. I can help you take care of your parents who live in Phoenix or back in Boston, I can do all of those kinds of things. We think there’s some potential there. It’s going to be one of our big investments in 2017 – to further define that model and see if we can make it fly.

Campbell: Certainly enlightening and inspiring.

Morreale: I think it’s just a different way of looking at what we do. I don’t like to get caught up in the technology. I know a lot of CIOs who get caught up in the technology and the toys, and the toys are cool. I mean let’s face it, but at the end of the day I’m doing healthcare, and that’s about people.  How do I make the experience easy for you and me, or family, and deliver quality, convenience, and access? I think that’s where a large portion of our future has to be.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

About Daniel Morreale
Daniel Morreale is CIO at Hunterdon Healthcare, a community hospital based in central New Jersey. He has held CIO roles at a number of organizations, including Riverside Healthcare System, Kingsbrook Health System, and Atlanticare. A CHIME fellow, Morreale was the recipient of CHIME’s’ Innovator of the Year’ and ‘Collaboration of the Year’ Awards, and was recognized by Computerworld Magazine as one of the ‘Premier 100 IT Leaders.’ He also received the Safety Net Award from the National Association of Public Hospitals, and the Smithsonian Center of Innovative Technology Honors Laureate Award. Morreale is past-President of the New Jersey Chapter of HIMSS.

About Justin Campbell
Justin is Vice President, Strategy, at Galen Healthcare Solutions. He is responsible for market intelligence, segmentation, business and market development and competitive strategy. Justin has been consulting in Health IT for over 10 years, guiding clients in the implementation, integration and optimization of clinical systems. He has been on the front lines of system replacement and data migration and is passionate about advancing interoperability in healthcare and harnessing analytical insights to realize improvements in patient care. Justin can be found on Twitter at @TJustinCampbell and LinkedIn.