During a recent discussion with a hospital CIO, he asked me for an opinion. His interest was in knowing what was top of mind with his peers. He wanted to know what the real healthcare priorities are for others. A red flag started waving in my mind. This could be a test. There could be no correct answer. I felt my blood pressure rising. My credibility is only as strong as the last conversation and I needed to get this right – for myself as well as for the CIO.
Taking a moment to think of the conversations I regularly have with our sales teams, customers, and suppliers, I formulated a response. My discussions consistently focus on the customer’s business requirements and the telecommunication solutions we can provide to support them. Various pressures such as shrinking reimbursements, meaningful use achievement, and mergers/acquisitions drive healthcare provider requirements, and I often find myself helping to establish the linkage between these needs and the technical solutions. The thread common to many of these discussions is and will likely continue to be the intense need to take better advantage of telecom and IT investments that are currently in place. Cost is always an issue along with the business impact of productivity and the strategic value of attributes such as scalability.
My answer to the CIO was straightforward. For healthcare providers the real healthcare priorities are focused on leveraging current investments. In almost all cases, providers are not using the majority of features available within their existing telecommunication systems. They have paid for features they don’t use – simple things such as find me/follow-me. And when it comes to expansion and new construction, all too many times the decision to adopt a new system or technology is made for the wrong reasons – without adequate consideration for the existing technology’s capabilities or the hard business case defining the cost, business impact, and strategic value of upgrading rather than rip and replace.
My customer, the CIO, smiled at the end of our conversation. Taking better advantage of his hospitals existing IT/Telecom investments rather than buying new is his real priority. The approach I described mirrors his intent, and that of several of his peers with whom he told me afterwards he had already spoken. I suppose I got the real healthcare priorities right.