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Healthcare Reform and the Reliance on IT

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« Measurements MatterCommunication (and snacks) go a long way! »

Healthcare Reform and the Reliance on IT

11/04/09

Permalink 08:08:00 pm, Categories: IT Leadership, Healthcare, Business Leadership

Last week, I attended the Southern California Healthcare Conference. The list of speakers was impressive and the audience of over 900 people got a full dose of information.

One message that was repeated over and over is how much a successful reform of the US healthcare system is going to depend on information technology. While I do believe it is true that IT will be a major factor in the success (or failure) of healthcare reform, there is much more that needs to be considered as organizations take on new technologies (especially electronic medical records).

As I have mentioned in previous posts and in my whitepapers, organizations often fail to give full attention to the process, people, and culture issues that play a major role in the implementation of new technologies. A number of the speakers at the conference did allude to this, but very few of them directly talked about these issues.

If I could only give three pieces of advice to the CEO of a hospital, physician group, or insurance plan when it comes to implementing new technology it would be these:

(1) Have good project management--hire it, contract it, steal it, do whatever it takes, but be sure you have it!

(2) Involve people at all levels who will be impacted by the technology you are implementing--involve them early, involve them often, and really listen to their fears, concerns, ideas, excitement, and business. Remember to include patients in this mix!!

(3) Don't worry about (or spend too much time on) the actual technology--as long as you select a fairly large, established vendor, most of the systems on the market will do 90% of what you want them to do out of the box. The remaining 10% of the functionality is where you should focus your questions when talking to vendors.

Healthcare reform in the US is important--and will be painful in many ways. But by focusing on the people and process components, we can ensure that the technologies improve healthcare rather than simply automating existing processes.


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Don shares his experience and ideas about how to get the most value from your IT function. Note: The views and opinions expressed here are those of Don and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of his clients or employers.

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