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IT Moves to the C-Suite

By Jim Deren, Director of IT Planning,CareTech Solutions

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Jim Deren, Director of IT Planning, CareTech Solutions

Successful healthcare executives develop their strategic plans based on a solid understanding of the business and clinical and regulatory drivers that will allow the organization to achieve success. What has changed is that every aspect of strategic and business planning is now interdependent on effectively utilizing technology to accomplish business goals. From the CFO to the lab technician, every staff member in a hospital relies on IT to do his or her job efficiently. Strategic technology decision-making is now squarely in the domain of the C-suite.

“Executives must consider the strategic aspects of advanced technology, information systems and how they use external resources”

The way healthcare organizations are delivering care and receiving reimbursement is undergoing a fundamental change. Forward-thinking executives are leading the way, creating an innovation culture in which healthcare organizations are adopting new, efficient models of delivering technology-enabled care. The role of the modern CIO, for example, is shifting from a senior leader who deploys and manages systems to a business executive, responsible for delivering operational, financial and clinical excellence.

Staying compliant with the waves of regulations, reforms and sheer complexity of efficiently managing vast amounts of data is a growing area of concern for the industry. With this motivation, executives must consider the strategic aspects of advanced technology, information systems and how they use external resources.

The new business paradigm

The industry is shifting focus from investing in IT and new systems to maximizing the business and strategic value of technology. As more information exists in digital form, executive leaders are accountable for leveraging data in increasingly complex ways. Big data, for instance, is starting to move the needle in areas such as population health management, and healthcare reform is relentlessly driving new changes. Changes in reimbursement are revitalizing efforts to understand and analyze total IT costs to achieve the current imperative of increasing efficiency and improving patient care, coordination and quality.

ITO as a strategic asset

As hospitals re-tool in-patient services to focus on delivering more wellness-orientated, outpatient services, sophisticated IT outsourcing (ITO) services are providing the capability to offer solutions that drive competitive business and clinical advantages. While smaller organizations often have fewer resources, they must comply with the same regulatory mandates and reporting requirements as their larger counterparts. In fact, they need to offer the same IT capabilities.

Remote services such as telemedicine, eICU, ePharmacy and eConsulting are leveling the playing field for small and rural hospitals. The ability to share resources and technologies in a blended consulting model allows smaller organizations to access only the specific IT expertise they need—at the time they need it—to drive business and clinical goals, tailoring their capabilities based on their needs and size. Larger organizations also engage outside expertise in the form of IT partnerships to lower costs and improve efficiency.

No matter the size of the organization, all providers must strive for the same level of quality, ease and convenience that consumers experience in other industries such as banking and retail. The positive consumer experience is the direct result of optimizing technology to facilitate frictionless transactions and create customer loyalty—a goal that healthcare organizations should strive for in a value-based world.

The right strategic partner for growth

To achieve success and growth, healthcare organizations will need more than vendors offering a laundry list of services. Outsourcing partners, in contrast, go beyond technology to focus on long-term strategy, people, process and workflows, ensuring a match of corporate cultures and complete vendor neutrality. They essentially become part of the staff, often working side-by-side with teams in finance, operations and IT. Contacts at the executive level are common, allowing senior leaders to reach out to their partner’s executive counterparts on their personal cell phones, even after business hours.

Outsourcing partners help hospitals to internalize technology, optimize business and IT strategies and achieve a cultural fit by working as a complete solutions provider for the benefit of patients. As healthcare executives lead new initiatives to build a culture focusing on patients first and building value, technology is transitioning from being a tool to becoming a key element of the business strategy.

Indeed, IT is fundamental to delivering high quality consumer experience that will be a hallmark of the value-based care model. Other industries have long embraced the strategic value of IT and relied on technology partners to accelerate growth and customer acquisition. Partnerships will be critical to achieving growth and forward thinking executives can start building the right long-term business relationships today that will support future success.

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