Advice for Today’s Healthcare CIO

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By Joel French, CEO of SCI Solutions

Today’s enterprises are becoming more and more digitized as organizations continue to rely on technology to drive, streamline, automate, redesign and optimize business processes. Trends such as mobility, big data, social and cloud computing are no longer “emergent,” but have become foundational pillars to any sustainable business strategy.  This increasing digitization is changing the game for IT professionals across all industries, but perhaps none more so than in healthcare.

Healthcare has historically struggled in its efforts to transform business processes using digital technologies, and has lagged behind other U.S. industries in technology advancements and business model innovations. And when you consider the pressure on margins due to declining inpatient volumes and lower federal reimbursement levels, it’s more critical than ever for healthcare enterprises to leverage digital technologies that create workflow efficiencies, increase outpatient revenue and generate market advantages. Because technology is now inextricably linked to an organization’s bottom line, the CIO, the traditional custodian of IT purchasing decisions, must now approach the role with a business mindset. Having deep technical expertise is no longer enough. As Becker’s Hospital Review recently noted, today’s CIOs are seeking to build teams comprised of people with technical prowess, and also business and communication acumen that will enable them to engage with the organization’s business strategy from a technology perspective.

Said differently, today’s healthcare IT leader must also be a business leader, and will bear more responsibility for delivering risk-adjusted returns against approved technology investments. Given this new reality, what practical disciplines should modern healthcare CIOs cultivate to be successful?

  • Be certain to clearly understand the business problem context as well as consequences and opportunities for both the enterprise and individual constituents, before seeking to solve them with technology solutions.
  • Develop the mindset of a CFO, becoming facile with the economics of how your organization runs. No margin no mission, so it’s important to understand how you as a CIO can support profitability.
  • Always remember no business operates in isolation. Even companies currently enjoying the benefit of monopoly or oligopoly profits can have their advantages quickly eroded by disruptive technologies, new business models, macro trend shifts and aggressive competitors. Achieving measurable growth and introducing new sustainable competitive advantage, therefore, matters.
  • Become execution-oriented. Begin with the end in mind; understand the right metrics for success, and hold all stakeholders accountable, including your technology vendors.

Expectations of IT have never been higher, making it an exciting and challenging time to be an IT leader. Healthcare is ripe for disruption, and CIOs have an opportunity to shape the course of their organizations’ futures by adopting and implementing high-performing IT solutions that are grounded in clear business needs and strategic outcomes.

2 Comments

  1. Randy Carpenter
    Permalink

    Joel,

    I believe the ability to achieve the results proposed in your model above are exactly what CIOs of today need to focus on.

    There is also a direct correlation in my opinion to success (both financially and capabilities) with the amount of involvement, or skin in the game if you will, of peer executives who own the business lines the CIO is partnering with to advance.

    Randy C

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  2. Kevin Cable
    Permalink

    Focusing on the efficiency of the provider is right on the money. The issue is more than 50% of GP’s report very high levels of stress with just their patient relationships, not to mention adopting and using technology that is supposed to “help” their practices. They need more than just technology. Is there a place for a hybrid business model where the actual technology providers also sell services to make sure their products actually do what they promote? The banker in me says you will lower your multiple. The patient in me says the doctors have had it with spending money on technology that doesn’t improve their own personal economics.

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