The Grill: Orlando Health CIO Rick Schooler's vision of healthcare IT

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The longtime healthcare CIO explains how analytics is transforming medical care.

With two decades in healthcare IT under his belt, Rick Schooler, vice president and CIO at Orlando Health, is girding for the next big change, as organizations like his begin harnessing the power of analytics to influence how doctors and nurses treat patients. In recognition of his work in using IT to improve healthcare, Schooler was named the 2011 John E. Gall Jr. CIO of the Year by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS). Here, Schooler reflects on how IT has changed, and will continue to change, medical care.

You've spent 21 years putting in systems that automate back-office healthcare functions and deploying technologies that give clinicians better access to patient information. What's next for healthcare IT? We've implemented technology to automate healthcare delivery and payment, and we're now in a reality where the focus will go to using that information to better manage care in real time, to use analytics to understand truly what's going on. We're moving toward a clinically integrated model of care, and the IT platforms that need to be put into place to make that happen are significant and are significantly different than what we put in place in the past.

What is a clinically integrated model of care? The patient's experience in terms of the healthcare continuum becomes seamless, so as a patient transitions through the different levels and venues of healthcare, the information flows through all those venues. In order for this to happen, different players have to come together as a virtual team. We need an information model that really does integrate in ways that in years gone by wasn't possible or wasn't desired.

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