This week, I met with the IT organization of a large hospital. We talked about their technology, their culture, and their needs. There were a couple of quotes that I found interesting.
“Our Physicians just want a report; they won’t dig for the data themselves.” “They know we [IT] are so backlogged, they no longer ask us for anything.” “If it doesn’t apply to our clinical or HR systems, it doesn’t get on our active list.” Another way of stating this is… 1) we are not willing or able to handle self-service, 2) We have been trained to stop asking for service because we won’t get it, and 3) Anything outside of the systems directly tied to revenue will not get attention.
What I did not hear is “IT is unwilling to help,” “IT is incompetent,” or “IT just doesn’t understand our business.” In fact, I learned just the opposite. The IT people I heard are extremely bright, conscientious, and know the health system business. What they don’t have is time. Part of the problem is self-inflicted.
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I would bet that earlier IT staff trained the care team to depend on them exclusively for any ad-hoc report or change when it was needed. I would go further to say they provided pretty good service for a while, further reinforcing this training. Then, success happened. The health system grew, took on more patients, took on more systems, and probably acquired a hospital or two with completely different systems that need to be integrated into the mothership. Now, the customer-centric IT team is drowning just trying to keep systems working.
The solution is not more technology. It is building templates and standards for the existing technology, then retraining everyone to be willing to pursue self-service. It will take a lot of change management first internally with IT, then externally with departmental users to build a comfort level with change. It will take a deeper understanding of the dynamics of change. They will have to identify some grassroots sponsors who will champion the new approach. They will have to learn together to be more self-sufficient. They will need to be less risk-averse.
Once this core team is identified, they should look at creating business intelligence solutions that are repeatable and consistent. Since I’ve already made a few bets, I’ll make another. I’ll bet the infrastructure and tools are in place to provide this today. If not, it is just a phone call away. These solutions are designed to provide self-service scorecards and advanced analytics. They will provide views across the entire enterprise with the option to drill-down to the individual physician, patient, or nurse. They will enable troubleshooting and business process improvement.
The technology behind these solutions is the easy part. There are dozens of solutions. The health system most likely owns two or three already. The hard part is recognizing this is a change management project, understanding change management, and effectively managing this change.
Why not change? It’s inevitable.