Brian Doerr with Community Hospital Corporation shares a roadmap for IT transformation to help community hospital leaders analyze the business case for technology improvements. Technology will play an important role in improving healthcare delivery, particularly in rural areas. However, investing in IT infrastructure and optimization is a significant challenge for community and rural hospitals due to budget constraints. In this Executive Insight, Brian Doerr with Community Hospital Corporation shares a roadmap for IT transformation to help community hospital leaders analyze the business case for technology improvements.
What types of IT transformation benefit community hospitals?
BD: While strategy-driven IT transformation will look different for every hospital, IT solutions that are obsolete or outdated — such as on-premise servers, desktop computing and legacy systems — often top the list of upgrades because they require specialized expertise to maintain, impede operational efficiency, and increase security risks.
How is it possible for a financially challenged hospital to invest in new technology?
BD: Running clinical and administrative processes on outdated infrastructure, platforms and applications has become increasingly costly and cumbersome for hospitals. Transitioning to a cloud-based or hybrid delivery model produces several areas of savings and improved manageability. For example, a cloud-based model reduces overhead by shifting IT costs from a capital investment to a line-item operational expense.
Can you share an example of how IT transformation helped a community hospital?
BD: Freestone Medical Center in Fairfield, Texas, moved away from an on-premises IT infrastructure and shifted to a cloud-computing environment. The hospital developed a roadmap for moving a wide range of the hospital’s functions to the cloud, which eliminated capital expenditures for IT server infrastructure, reduced IT operating costs, improved data security, enhanced patient care, enhanced operational efficiency and provided growth opportunities.
What is an IT Transformation Roadmap?
BD: In short, it’s a strategic approach to IT transformation that considers true return on investment of any IT upgrade. The roadmap includes the planning, implementation and evaluation phases of IT transformation. By identifying the organization’s requirements upfront, technology selections will better serve the organization.
What planning steps are important for IT transformation?
BD: First, it’s important to identify and assemble the team that will lead the effort. In many cases, hospitals need external support to plan and carry out the process in the short term. Next, it’s key to understand the current IT environment, which includes understanding network configuration, outlining maintenance processes and identifying any obsolete technology, or “tech debt.” The planning phase concludes by establishing organizational goals, success metrics, a budget and a timeline.
How does cybersecurity factor into IT transformation?
BD: Security is a foundational component of all transformation projects. Implementing new IT solutions that enable automation can reduce security and privacy concerns and free up IT personnel to work on security architecture improvements. Cloud computing is gaining acceptance as a cost-effective and scalable way to mitigate risk.
Are hospital leaders surprised by any steps in the IT Transformation Roadmap?
BD: Some of our hospital clients don’t expect the roadmap to include process and people evolution. We’ve found that to maximize the results of new technology investments, it’s important to identify organizational processes and culture that need to change. We also find it helpful to design and communicate new processes before the technology implementation in order to gain insights. Training in new processes and technology before, during and after implementation also maximizes the opportunity for a successful transformation.
Why is it important for rural and community hospitals to consider IT transformation?
BD: Although these facilities face financial hardship, long-term sustainability isn’t achievable using outdated IT models and methodologies. Even resource-constrained rural and community hospitals need to adopt future-forward strategies and tools that support their clinical and financial success. These hospitals must be prudent to ensure IT solutions are strategic, cost effective, efficient and affordable.
IT transformation doesn’t happen overnight, but hospitals in need of expert guidance will find that an experienced partner can help them create a roadmap to success and accompany them every step of the way.