Vital Signs Blog

Blog: CIOs agree that IT optimization is a team sport

Get everyone on the same page!

That's what's needed to get the most out of the money organizations are spending on new computer software and technology to improve experiences for both consumers and end users.

A group of about a dozen top healthcare chief information officers recently gathered at the Scottsdale Institute's spring conference in Arizona. They talked about the challenges facing healthcare organizations, including who needs to get involved in getting the most of the information technology investment and how to get them on a fast-moving train.

The first step when embarking upon an optimization project is to obtain consensus among the organization's top brass on just what optimization means, the panelists recommended. “Perhaps no one act is as important as getting the entire leadership team on the same page” in coming to a common definition of optimization. “Leaving it undone will almost certainly lead to failure,” according to the report.

Another key recommendation is to develop an effective procedure to roll out optimizations rapidly.

“With the rapid fire changes occurring, roll out of optimized builds to the organizations many facilities can't take years; it has to happen quickly. Yet, most organizations don't have systems or processes in place or a plan for rapidly deploying enhancements, particularly when the bulk of the enhancements are related to workflow changes.”

“There may be 15 things that need to change in the processes to optimize them, but maybe only 2 are IT,” said panelist Patrick O'Hare, CIO and senior vice president from Spectrum Health, Grand Rapids, Mich.

"We must recognize organizationally that this is not about IT,” concurred Lee Marley, CIO and senior vice president of Presbyterian Healthcare Services, Albuquerque. “We are a supporting cast member.”

According to a Scottsdale white paper recapping the session, “The hottest optimization requests are for dashboards and reports that provide real-time views of what's being tracked by that system and point-in-time measures of organizational activities.”

“Large organizations are also focusing on making the patient experience consistent from facility to facility,” it said.

Financial and human resources systems are fairly straightforward and so optimization projects with them are easier than optimizing more complex clinical systems due to “the inherent necessary variability in clinical processes, coupled with the technically unnecessary but culturally protected variability in clinical workflows from site to site and between providers,” according to the report.

But, it said, “There will likely never be a time when CIOs can focus the majority of their attentions on optimizing existing software implementations in a stable environment. Instead, they must do it in the milieu of constant change of the healthcare environment, perpetual implementations and upgrades.”


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