CIO Chat – John Kravitz, Geisinger Health System

This is a guest post provided by John Kravitz, MHA, CHCIO. Kravitz is the CIO at Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania.

Time as CIO.

Prior to my leadership roles, I’ve worked in other industries, but I’ve been a CIO in only Healthcare. I’ve been in multiple healthcare delivery systems like the acute care world, post-acute care world and then back acute care, so I would say close to 25 years as Chief Information Officer.

Time in current role.

I’ve been at Geisinger for almost 12 years now with my current role as the CIO for over five years. I’ve grown within the organization – a very complex organization in comparison to where I was the CIO in the past – so my span of control is considerably bigger. It is a different type of job than what I’ve ever experienced in my career prior. Things have changed dramatically as analytics continue to grow. The electronic health record has been expansive with more features and functions changing all the time.

What initiatives are you working on right now?

Now, we’re getting into full CRM (customer relationship management) implementation. We know everything about the customer, so we’re focused on how the customer will interact with the system in a much easier and much cleaner way than they would have in the past.

We’ll reach out to the patient and follow up with them to make certain that they’re as healthy as can be. Our outreach includes appointments as well as new service offerings. We want to make it easier for our patients to get the services they need. Our goal is to keep our population of patients that we cover or serve as healthy as we can.

Currently, what are the greatest challenges facing Healthcare IT and CIOs?

Fiscal responsibility. Our costs are too high in healthcare, and we’re working on getting the costs down with a number of initiatives aimed to increase transparency. There are a lot of fixed costs within Healthcare IT because of the data centers and their servers and equipment. We need to look at starting to move to the cloud, so we can have the flexibility of when we’re not using something to turn it off to reduce – or even eliminate – cost of these services.

Cybersecurity is huge. Everybody’s getting hit; there’s nobody that’s immune from hackers. We want to make sure that we’re following all of the standards that protect both the organization and its patients. Unfortunately, a lot of healthcare organizations are way behind the ball on getting those done. We’ve been working hard to stay current with them, but we still have a lot of work to do to be current. Whether you’re big or small, cybersecurity is a big challenge.

In the next few years, what part of Healthcare IT do you think will change the most?

Digital strategy. It’s a solution that will help us connect with our customers through effective, efficient and frictionless communication. We’re working on our strategy now by using facial recognition to identify patients. When they’re coming in, it’s quick to identify them and what services they’re here for without tying them up for a long period of time at the registration desk. We’re also working on geo-fencing. For someone that’s using our mobile app and located in the parking lot, it will send them messages to let them know when to come in for their services. These are just some of the touch points from a digital strategy perspective, but we have a lot more that we plan to do going forward.

Describe your role at CHIME.

I’ve been serving as the Chairman of the Board for the last two years. We do a lot of education, and right now, we’re focused on digital strategy, use of telemedicine with wearable devices or devices in the home that communicate through telemedicine. Even with over 3,200 members across 57 countries, we’re able to share our experiences and knowledge with one another.

What advice do you have for CIOs?

You need to be driven as a CIO. We as Healthcare CIOs have come up through the ranks as being computer scientists or computer development folks, so we have a technical understanding of how things work and function. But the role of the CIO is changing, it’s evolving. And we need to focus on how we can elevate the business, how to launch the business forward. How do we do things differently that will allow for the business to grow? How do we provide more tools to make it easier to use our healthcare services versus the competition’s services? You can’t think about the data center, you can’t think about your servers and your storage and other things. You need to think about the business, what you are doing to move the business forward and how to make it easier for the business to evolve strategically.