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CIO vertical: Using digital technologies to shake up healthcare

Mobile, cloud, big data and social media have changed how we operate on a daily basis -- including how we access healthcare. Kristin Darby, CIO at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) can attest to that.

At the recent 2014 MIT Sloan CIO Symposium, Darby sat on a panel with other healthcare leaders to discuss the value that digital care offers patients, how digital technologies are transforming healthcare organizations and the barriers that still prevent the healthcare industry from realizing the full benefits of these technologies. In a sit-down interview with SearchCIO's Emily McLaughlin before the panel discussion, she gave some historical perspective and a preview of what's to come in her industry.

Today, you're speaking on a panel about moving from digital silos to a digital care enterprise. Can you explain what you're doing at CTCA? What role do you play in moving from the silos to a care enterprise?

Kristin Darby: It's a time of transition within the information technology healthcare field, where there are many more opportunities for sharing across the enterprise that didn't exist previously. Historically, I can remember many years ago when I had [multiple] locations throughout the United States. A patient would visit one facility and then go across the street to another facility, and it was like they were going to a competitor. We had no information sharing, and everything truly was siloed location by location, whether it was within the same organization or a different organization. We did not have the ability to share that information, which added a lot of administrative burden to make sure that the care providers had the information they needed to provide appropriate patient care.

What we have transitioned into is that many organizations now have access to that information across their enterprise, but it may or may not be in the format that's most appropriate for the providers. A lot of us are working through the electronic medical record optimization process to determine how to make data available at the point in time that the caregivers have all the information they need to make the best decisions.

In addition to that, information sharing across the organization is now expanding also -- whether it's coordination between a primary care physician and specialist that has to increase; or we have different types of affiliations starting to emerge within the industry, where care providers need to be able to coordinate care. And that coordination across not only an existing organization's enterprise but a care continuum enterprise is starting to be in much larger demand. And it is starting to push [the adoption of] more standards within our industry -- which is a good thing.

Let us know what you think of the story; email Emily McLaughlin, SearchCIO associate site editor.

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In what ways is your organization moving away from information silos?