Are CIOs Done with the Plumbing and Ready for the Drywall?

At RSNA 2015 I had a chance to sit down with Evren Eryurek, Software Chief Technology Officer at GE Healthcare. We had a wide ranging conversation about what’s happening across all of healthcare IT and GE’s new healthcare cloud offering. However, the thing that stuck with me the most from our conversation was the comment he used to open our conversation.

Evren told me that as he sits down with health care CIO’s he’s finding that CIO’s are done with the plumbing work and now they’re asking the question, “What’s next?”

This statement really resonated with me. Up until now we’ve been doing a lot of the plumbing work in healthcare. It’s necessary work, but it’s stuck behind the walls and most people take it for granted really quickly. We see that first hand with EHR software and all the interfaces to the EHR software. We absolutely take for granted that charts are instantly at our fingertips with the click of a button. We take for granted that charts are legible. I could go on, but you get the point.

The problem is that even though we have the plumbing work done it’s still pretty ugly. We haven’t put up the drywall (to continue the metaphor) that will add some real form and function to the plumbing and framing work (the EHR) that we’ve been doing the past couple years. I think organizations are ready for this now.

While at RSNA I also spent some time talking with Rasu Shrestha, MD, MBA, and Chief Innovation Officer at UPMC. I asked him what topic was most interesting to him. His answer was “Data Tranformation.” I plan to have a future video interview (see our full history of video interviews) with him on the subject.

His concept of data transformation aligns really well with what other CIOs were telling Evren. They’re ready to figure out what we can do with all of this EHR data to improve care and move health care forward. The plumbing work is done. The foundation is laid. Now let’s look to the future of what we can do.

This same sentiment is reflected in a comment John Halamka, MD, MS, and CIO at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, made in a recent blog post, “our agenda is filled with new ideas and it feels as if the weights around our ankles (ICD10, MU) are finally coming off.”

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • I really hope the days of working on the behind-the-scenes plumbing is coming to an end John. Like you, I think the plumbing work was necessary, but it’s an open question how much of the HealthIT efforts over the past 5 years has benefitted patients. ICD-10, Meaningful Use and digitizing medical records are foundational elements that didn’t really “move the needle” in terms of improving patient care or patient experience.

    In the next few years I would love to see more innovation and advancement on improving the quality of care for patients. I’m excited about the possibilities of passive patient monitoring, personalized health and mining health data to find causal relationships that have so far eluded us. I’m also looking forward to hearing more about the pioneering work that people like Rasu Shrestha and John Halamka are bringing to healthcare.

  • I finally met Rasu in person last week and was really impressed. He’s working on some great stuff. I think John Halamka brings a lot of insights into what’s going on with the industry, but I haven’t seen what he’s been doing to pioneer changes in health care. Did I miss them?

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