“94% of the surveyed hospital CFOs self-identified as “struggling”, report that delayed or failed implementations in other IT systems, particularly EHR, have drastically impacted the organization’s financial position.”
That is what it says in the third sentence of a fascinating press release I just read from healthcare market research firm Black Book Market Research. The press release goes on to cite a number of other statistics from their research including stats that many healthcare CFOs are expecting to lose their jobs by 2016 and that there will be a trend to start hiring CEOs from outside healthcare.
I have witnessed some of the reasons for the IT troubles at healthcare companies:
· Healthcare companies on the whole have been laggards in adoption of fresh information technologies.
· IT personnel at many healthcare organizations themselves are behind the curve on technology as they don’t get to go to new technology classes and they are working with antiquated IT.
· There is not an action oriented culture at many healthcare firms with regard to IT staff getting projects done and effectively managing IT. Many healthcare IT professionals have been with their firms a long time and there is often a strong sense of complacency.
· IT managers are frustrated and stymied by their IT teams and efforts to shake things up are undermined by the healthcare culture which seems to be that they just don’t fire anyone even for egregious errors and dereliction of duty… at least from what I am personally witnessing. This sucks the life out of the managers and the IT personnel who want to make a difference.
· Healthcare firms on the whole don’t seem to pay competitive IT salaries.
What do I recommend for healthcare firms?
1. Get an assessment of your system with recommended changes, rough budget estimates to implement those changes and prioritize by highest to lowest return on investments in IT. There are firms that can help you do this. Let the short term, lower cost and high impact projects come first. Quick improvements can be achieved that way.
2. Outsource these projects if need be. IT service firms get the job done fast because they have to. If they don’t deliver they don’t get the next engagement from you. They have to because if they don’t they are late doing the next gig for the next client. They have to because they need the cash flow. There is a different culture at these IT service firms and there are a lot of them to choose from. Some even specialize in healthcare. Look for a firm that does not sell hardware and software to limit the conflict of interest in recommending a lot of expensive stuff.
3. Empower your IT manager to write people up for poor performance. Get HR to be an asset in upgrading your IT staff vs. sabotaging their efforts. Look for the staff and recruiting prospects that have a history of reinventing themselves as IT changes. Look for the ones who have a history of leading successful projects. Make sure you are talking to the person who made it happen as many who were just along for the ride on a project disguise themselves as great IT people.
4. Encourage self-training, that is important, but sometimes you need to send your people to classes.
5. Identify, praise and reward the ones getting the job done. This can be more valuable than cash. Nothing is more deflating than busting one’s butt to get something done and no one notices or compliments.
6. Do all these things and your people will start to come alive. They will partner with the IT service firm. They will challenge each other and push each other to accomplish results and reverse your lost hope in your IT department. IT departments need help from outside sources. They can’t be expected to know it all. The IT service firm needs your people. They have institutional knowledge of your firm, your operations, your particular software and your processes.
Together you and your IT team can identify and prioritize what needs to get done fast for quick results that will pay off. People will notice. With the right IT staff and IT partners you can transform your healthcare company. I have seen it. It is very rewarding and it makes me good to be part of that change. You can do it too!
Click HERE if you want to read the full press release.