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.