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Un-complicating Healthcare IT

Un-complicating Healthcare IT: Mechanic

Oct 12, 2016 12:00:00 PM Posted by Phil Stravers | Partner, V.P. Strategy & Development

Never has IT been more pervasive and involved in the daily operations of healthcare as it is today. The demands and needs are ever increasing in both volume and complexity. Since 2011, we have seen a massive increase in usage of technology among clinicians, healthcare’s largest employee population. At the same time, the complexity of “Healthcare IT” has increased exponentially. So, whether it’s countering potential risks in both compliance and security, or identifying strategies to improve mobility, or figuring out patient data interoperability, or clinician efficiency, or reporting data in a way that management can leverage for decision making, the IT organization has had to become extremely agile and highly capable.

In the community healthcare setting, all of this tends to circle back to the IT Director (Manager). The IT Director is expected not only to manage a network, but also to manage clinical application deployments, compliance efforts and business efficiency planning. This is not just a tall order; it’s an impossible expectation. Why does this happen? In the community healthcare setting, it’s very difficult for hospitals and clinic to recruit, let alone afford, all of the expertise that is needed to run a successful IT operation, so most organizations end up trying to do as much as they can with as little as possible. While this may seem like the only option, experience would show that this actually creates a negative, catch-22 cycle for organizations and their staff.   This plays out on the technical/applications side, as well as the staffing side of the IT organization.

Technical / Applications Catch-22:

  1. Choose technology or software, spend big bucks and energy to purchase and “install.”
  2. Under-resource optimization, training and management disciplines.
  3. Suffer from physician complaints, poor staff productivity and revenue cycle issues.
  4. Choose new technology or software and hope for better outcomes.
  5. Start all over again.

Staffing Catch-22:

  1. Recruit an “up and comer” IT person(s) to lead IT.
  2. IT person gains skill and expertise, but is overwhelmed trying to be everything to everyone.
  3. IT person leaves for better job with better pay and more realistic expectations.
  4. Hire and restart the learning curve.

So, how do we stop the cycle without breaking the bank? Outsourcing. Yes, I just said it (typed it). No, I’m not saying you should fire your IT staff. In reality, when outsourcing is employed properly you have a better chance of retaining top talent and knowledge. Additionally, you should see your IT staff begin to be able to focus and thereby improve results to the organization and improve their personal situation. Through outsourcing you can achieve higher project success rates and improve overall IT economics through the use of expert fractional resources. Your staff will be able to focus their energy and thereby improve their job satisfaction as well as the outcomes in their department. Outsourcing also creates a platform by which you can cover gaps, both interim and permanent, and can shift responsibility to an outside organization to keep basic operational disciplines to a high service level. Outsourcing can also be leveraged to minimize risk and create a platform by which you can be more confident that your due diligence is adequately covered.

The good news is, there is significant opportunity to improve on investments of the past without having to start all over. If you want help breaking the cycle, give us a call. It’s what we do.


Phil Stravers | Partner, V.P. Strategy & Development

Phil Stravers, Partner and EVP of Strategy & Market Development at ICE Technologies, Inc. has been in consulting and management roles within the information technology industry for over 25 years and has spent more than 20 years helping hospitals and clinics “make IT work better”. Phil has had the opportunity to act as an Interim CIO for numerous hospitals which gives him a unique perspective on their challenges and associated solutions. Phil really enjoys sharing lessons learned and frequently presents at various hospital associations, HIMSS events and healthcare board rooms all over the country. In addition to his passion for improving Health IT, he loves baseball (die hard Cubs fan) and has spent more than 15 years coaching young baseball players. Phil lives in Pella, IA and often shares concepts learned from his background in coaching along with the Dutch farm culture and work ethic that his home town is known for.