CIO Chat – Thomas Schoenig, Jupiter Medical Center

This is guest post provided by Thomas Schoenig, VP and CIO at Jupiter Medical Center. Huntzinger periodically invites its clients and partners to contribute to The Huntzinger Blog.

By Thomas Schoenig
Vice President
Chief Information Officer
Jupiter Medical Center

Time in Healthcare
This September will mark 31 years that I’ve been involved in healthcare IT. I started as a programmer/analyst in September 1988.

Time in Current Role
I joined Jupiter Medical Center in May 2018 as Vice President and CIO. Prior to that I was with Adventist Health System (now AdventHealth) and served as a Regional CIO.

What are the Greatest Current Challenges Facing Healthcare IT?
There are many challenges, but at a high level, I break them into three categories:

  1. Interoperability – For me, this ranks up there as one of a CIO’s biggest challenges – not just at Jupiter, but throughout my career. The healthcare industry I feel has been playing catchup in this area when compared to other industries. I believe the pressures of regulation, market demand, non-healthcare technology “disrupters” and patients wanting more control of their data and patient care has accelerated the pace and I’m encouraged by that. However, I still see the amount of time, energy and resources that it takes to exchange data and maintain the integrity of that data as an area we need improvement.
  2. Data and Cyber Security – Not a week goes by that we don’t hear about a data breach or ransomware attack. Standing up a security program that will best protect your organization requires a special skillset that is in top demand and requires senior-level support to be successful. It’s unfortunate that so much energy, time and money are spent on security, but the reality of the environment requires CIOs to stay diligent.
  3. Usability of EMRs – Jupiter Medical Center is my second time to go through the implementation of an EMR. The industry still has a way to go to make EMRs physician friendly. We need to make improvements in systems that we ask our physicians to engage with every day – from eliminating as many mouse “clicks” as possible to system flow and meaningful decision support aides that don’t overwhelm.

What will be the Next Major Impact Area of IT on Healthcare?
Artificial intelligence and the internet of things (IOT) are the areas I’m watching, and looking at ways to effectively incorporate where it makes sense without taking on risk. These two areas, I believe, will serve the industry well in terms of making sure our clinicians are providing excellent and precise patient care and facilitating the transition of care to other venues outside the four walls of our hospitals. I think it was best summed up by Terry Shaw while I was with AdventHealth… never discharge the patient.

What is the Biggest Challenge of Being a Healthcare CIO?
There is a technology explosion, but we need to ensure those new technologies are safe and secure. Many tech firms out there today have not been traditionally in the healthcare space, but they are becoming disruptors.

These changes are altering the mindsets of CIOs, who are now forced to leave their comfort zones when it comes to “traditional” technology. Plus, technology is linked more than ever to business strategy, and CIOs need to better determine where to leverage technology in a space where a lot of disruption is going on.

Finally, recruiting and retaining staff to manage, deploy and optimize technology continues to be a major challenge.