From the adoption of value-based, consumer-centric care to the arrival of new industry players, such as retailers, change seems constant in the healthcare industry. That’s why it’s more important than ever for organizations to deploy technology wisely to support their business vision and strategy.
The information technology (IT) operation “needs to move from a cost center to more of a value center,” says Subra Sripada, managing director in the healthcare practice at Navigant Consulting. “Simply said, the IT tactical plan needs to align closely with the strategic plan,” he says.
While this is not a new concept, achieving it isn’t easy. So Sripada, former chief information officer and chief transformation officer at Beaumont Health in Southeast Michigan, and other experts share eight recommendations about how to align the work of information technology with the organization’s strategy.
1. Create a structured governance process
At FHN—a rural health system based in Freeport, Illinois—an information technology governance group composed of C-suite executives meets throughout the year to make sure the IT department’s portfolio of projects supports the organization’s strategy to become a consumer-centric health network. “It really needs to be owned by the IT governance council because the IT department needs the support of senior executives to really get what they need: the resources to get things done,” explains Mark Gridley, president and CEO of FHN, which includes a 100-bed hospital.
Carol Chouinard, vice president of provider technology at Optum Advisory Services, says regular governance meetings provide a venue for C-suite executives to learn about the work of the IT department throughout the year. “Too many CIOs go through this decision-making process, and then they walk away. Then there are these surprises and frustrations the next time they get to the table,” he says.
2. Adopt project management for the entire enterprise
While many healthcare organizations use a project management process within the IT department to vet, manage and track projects, fewer of them have adopted a process that encompasses the entire organization.
But that’s what executives at Albany Medical Center in New York decided to do earlier this year. In March, the academic medical center launched an enterprise program management office. The office coordinates and tracks all initiatives from departments across the organization, such as IT, facilities and clinical service lines, as well as cross-functional projects.
Projects are completed on a day-to-day perspective at the department level, but the project details from IT and other departments also are fed into the enterprise program management process. “It is completely bi-directional,” says George Hickman, executive vice president, CIO, and chief analytics officer at Albany Medical Center.
“We can see all the interrelationships.” Hickman continues. “Frankly, it makes the prioritization process transparent and fundamentally clear to all of senior management.” Because many projects compete for the same people and financial resources, centralized project management helps executives balance competing priorities, he notes.
A team from information technology and finance manages the enterprise program management office. The team reports to a leadership group that oversees Albany Medical Center’s overall strategic plan—an effort the organization calls “Pillars 22,” Hickman says.