In collaboration with Becker’s Hospital Review
Amid today’s extremely challenging financial environment, hospitals are focused on adopting technology that can drive efficiency, provide return on investment and strengthen team cohesion and buy-in.
During an August Becker’s Hospital Review webinar sponsored by MediQuant, a panel of healthcare technology experts discussed the decision-making process behind strategic technology investments and why vendor partnerships are so crucial.
- Bill Hudson, chief information officer, INTEGRIS Health in Oklahoma City
- Joel Klein, MD, senior VP & chief information officer, University of Maryland Medical System
- Kel Pults, DHA, MSN, RN-BC, chief clinical officer & VP, government strategy, MediQuant
- Cole White, chief financial officer, Ruby Valley Medical Center in Sheridan, Mont.
Three key takeaways were:
- Organizations are outsourcing, consolidating and eliminating duplicative or underused technologies and legacy applications. Some organizations are doing this by externalizing data functions; others, by shifting from a best-of-breed approach that makes use of multiple specific tools to elevating the role of IT in optimizing technology investments.
“Running a day-to-day data center [requires] energy and attention that can be better spent elsewhere,” said Mr. Hudson, whose organization recently partnered with Rackspace and Dell to outsource its data and hardware operations.
“Even as a small hospital, we have over 50 different IT solutions in place. One of our challenges has been to eliminate the unused, underused or useless systems,” Mr. White said
- Considering an investment’s impact on human capital is key to determining whether it is a strategic fit. The increase in technology-driven projects is testing the limits of employee bandwidth. This is why it is crucial that the decision-making process behind technology investments involves input from those employees who will be impacted by them. “It’s not just an IT or a finance or a management decision — it really is a personnel decision,” Mr. White noted.
The University of Maryland Medical System has adopted such an inclusive approach and has a strict governance process for IT projects. As part of that, discussion groups composed of clinical, business, security and technical staff review projects before they go up for executive approval. In addition, “You need good business analysts to go through the creation of a total cost of ownership for any of these projects,” Dr. Klein said.
- Slim budgets make navigating vendor contract terms harder and make finding a long-term partner a huge part of the solution. One way to rein in increasing vendor fees is by leveraging AI to modify organizations’ infrastructure and applications models. Another is by looking out for “software creep” where organizations are asked to pay more to get greater value from a solution they have already purchased. Yet another is by ensuring that IT solution vendors commit to providing ongoing after-sale service support.
The common thread that unites all of these approaches is that provider organizations are increasingly looking for technology partners rather than technology vendors. “You have to make sure that the priority [a potential vendor has] is not to just sell you something for the sake of selling something,” Dr. Pults said.
She described the relationship-building philosophy that healthcare data archive company, MediQuant, follows, which begins by helping customers prioritize what they want to achieve. “We want to see what you really need and wait until you’re ready for implementation before we sell you something.” MediQuant has also developed unique payment models for customers – giving them options that haven’t existed before.