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Un-complicating Healthcare IT

How To Get Your Hospital Board of Directors To Support IT

Aug 17, 2016 11:45:00 AM Posted by Jeff Stravers | Healthcare IT Consultant

ThinkstockPhotos-469737793.jpgA hospital board of directors is a group of people that keeps your hospital on track to meet goals and make decisions, so the last thing you want is for them to be caught off guard by a provider informing them of an IT problem. Maintaining open communication and keeping board members “in the know” with what your IT department is doing, especially in light of an IT complaint, is key.

In many healthcare organizations, you may find that providers will completely by-pass the IT department, going right to the CEO or to the board to present an IT complaint. The last thing a CEO or board member wants is to be caught off guard when approached with a presenting IT issue they know nothing about.

While there are differences from board to board, most want just a high-level summary of the IT trends, issues, and what’s being done to resolve those issues. Here are some best practices we’ve found helpful when it comes to sharing IT information with a board of directors.

1. strong Administration and IT relationship

Most of the time it is administration bringing IT information to the board meetings. A collaborative relationship between IT and administration needs to be established. When IT and the C-suite have this collaboration, then IT won’t feel stuck in a never-ending cycle of unanticipated expenses, unsuccessful projects and technology frustrations. The administration will need to have a grasp on how IT is doing, what issues there are, and what’s being done to solve them. This collaboration is best found through regular IT Steering Team meetings.

Screen_Shot_2016-08-10_at_1.08.36_PM.png2. High Level Overview Of IT Information

Many community hospital board members have limited experience with IT. In fact, you’ll likely find a farmer, a bank president, another local business owner and maybe a school principal. It will be important to compile a set of IT performance metrics, IT steering team minutes that show a high level view into the trends of IT issues, success and areas being improved upon. Consider a document with dashboards similar to what we have pictured here. 

3. CIO or IT Director Interaction with your hospital board

It may be a good idea to have your CIO or IT Director get in front of your board once a year (or more) to provide a high level overview of IT and IT developments. Creating this relationship between your CIO/IT Director and board members is helpful for establishing trust and to place a face with a name. This may also help in strategic planning so that the board members can gain further understanding of the IT goals, if needed and help to support those goals.

4. Ask For feedback from your board of directors and leadership

Sometimes IT feedback might come directly from board members themselves, other times it may be shared via email or from administration through the IT steering committee. The goal is continuous improvement, so it will be important to receive a feedback line of communication so that IT knows any items of concern as well as items of positivity from hospital leadership.

Determining what is and isn’t important to share with a hospital board can seem a little tricky. When sharing information, think how board members might receive it. Does the information help them see at a high level how things are working within IT? The information you want to share should provoke thoughts and questions from the board and not go over their heads. Board members should feel that the information you’ve provided them with would allow them to be able to support and promote IT if questioned by members of the community or by providers/physicians.

5. IT Dashboard and Trends For Your Hospital Board: 

  • Breakout of applications and the success/satisfaction trends within those applications
  • A high level overview of key IT project status (if there are issues, don’t be afraid to point them out, but include your plan to mitigate and what help the board/CEO can provide)
  • Most frequently requested IT services
  • Most frequent requester of IT services
  • Top critical tickets and ticket volume opened & closed trends
  • EHR-specific ticket volume opened & closed
  • Average initial ticket response time and average ticket resolution time
  • IT operations actual YTD spend vs. planned budget
  • Alignment of IT goals with overall organizational objectives – answer the question – “what has IT done to advance the cause this year?”

Strong communication and keeping your board of directors informed with IT will help your hospital work more coherently and reduce the knocks on the CEO’s door. Sharing information between your IT team and board of directors will help you both stay “in the know” with the value IT is providing or where there needs to be improvements.

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Jeff Stravers | Healthcare IT Consultant

Jeff is an experienced IT leader with over 32 years of experience, 18 of which have been in healthcare. Jeff performs the role of CIO for ICE clients and is a member of our Leadership Solutions Team. Jeff is constantly looking to drive value out of IT in every solution, creating successful IT environments for ICE clients.