With Healthcare Reinventing Itself, CIOs have a Myriad of Opportunities to Excel

While much recent conversation on health reform has centered on achieving acceptable levels of functional performance of various exchanges and enrollment portals, there is a broader and deeper risk for all CIOs in current trends toward transparency and collaborative care. Whether self-insured or not, there is no immunity from the impact of Obamacare. Healthcare insurance is in the process of fundamentally reinventing itself. As a result, the market pulses with new players (strange bedfellows like physicians and communication agencies), new wiring (like health information exchanges), and huge technological investment and innovation. CIOs for employer groups will need to keep pace. They have to expect to play a greater role in their employees’ health insurance transactions and data, and they need to strengthen their ability to easily interoperate with shifting vendors for enrollment, plan changes, contract management, care and health engagement, and dispute resolution. A recent survey by Accenture concluded that the age of self-monitoring of health status is upon us, and tools to enable this monitoring are becoming table stakes for employer benefits departments.

"Now is the time to take stock of the data you own and the data you need..."

Now is the time to take stock of the data you own and the data you need in the near future, and the processes by which you will acquire it. Will you be sending Health Risk Assessments to your employees and, if so, how will you protect personal health information? Be careful not to outsource too much; having a full swath of data, the analytics capabilities to understand it, and the automated processes to make it actionable can help improve contractual outcomes with your vendors, as well as the health outcomes of your employees – whether by identifying appropriate health management programs or by successfully engaging them in controlling their own health and the associated health costs. Whether outsourced or not, employer CIOs are increasingly participating in the evaluation of privacy and security programs in place with potential insurers and providers. Ultimately, your ability to stay technically nimble and maximize your resources to make your workforce a stronger asset will make you a winner in the post-Obamacare world.