Reaching the Full Potential of Healthcare IT
Does your bimodal strategy stack up against the CSC Hierarchy of Healthcare IT?
Healthcare organizations are under intense pressure to shift their organizations faster than ever. It’s imperative that they invest in their digital futures to prepare for new models of care, new patient-centric engagement frameworks, and the new technologies expected by clinicians, caregivers, consumers and payers. But how can they do this while also maintaining legacy operating systems, existing models of care, and traditional reimbursement and funding arrangements?
by Lisa Pettigrew
Healthcare CIOs can be crucial in helping organizations navigate this bimodal challenge.
As the healthcare industry undergoes widespread disruption, CIOs might do well to take a second look at Maslow’s classic theory on the hierarchy of needs. According to this theory, self-actualization, or the fulfillment of potential, is the highest level of psychological development — but it can be achieved only after all basic needs have first been met. For the healthcare industry, the ultimate objective — a focus on patient-centered care, care management and population health — can be achieved only when the potential of digital technology has been fully realized.
To support the dialogue about digital technologies among CIOs, physicians and healthcare business leaders, we’ve created the CSC Hierarchy of Healthcare IT. This hierarchy can help organizations understand the right approach for their bimodal strategy.
Start with the basics
The basic layers in healthcare IT — which correspond to Maslow’s basic needs of shelter, food and water — represent all the infrastructure and corporate back-office systems necessary for a healthcare organization to exist. These include networks, WiFi, storage and compute power, cybersecurity, identity and access tools, operating systems, as well as financial, payroll, administrative and logistics applications.
In healthcare, these technology services together serve as the crucial infrastructure that no one sees, yet everyone relies on to do their jobs effectively. These functions can be effectively managed with CSC’s Agile IT as a Service solution.
Work with the middle layers
The middle layers include Health Information Exchanges (HIEs), which securely exchange health information across settings and among stakeholders, as well as the core electronic health records (EHRs) that physicians typically associate with IT. EHRs include all the clinical data, tests and orders, pathology, radiology, surgical and procedural notes, and patient information. The technology here serves as the physician’s core working system.
These middle layers, which support eHealth Optimization, are highly visible to physicians, nurses and clinical workforces, yet are not typically seen or accessed by patients.
Use digital technologies to support patient care and more
At the peak of the hierarchy, we reach the ultimate objective of Population Health Enablement, where we focus on using digital technologies to support patient-centered care, care management and population health. This is the area of the hierarchy that directly engages with and is visible to patients.
This hierarchy can assist healthcare technologists and physicians in understanding each other’s frustrations and challenges.
For example, even after years of energy and effort, clinicians still cite frustrations with EHRs. But it’s difficult to expect optimal results when making investments in something significant such as EHRs without first fortifying the foundation. An investment in an expensive EHR is not always matched with sufficient investment in the core infrastructure required to support the entirely new models of care, increased data capture obligations and workflow changes embodied in an EHR. New smart device access needs, new WiFi requirements, increased cybersecurity obligations from networked EHRs, and increased storage requirements — all of these require investment to get the most out of an EHR.
Bottom line, healthcare organizations need to optimize investments across the hierarchy to suit the organizations’ objectives. For example, rather than continually spending money on the same infrastructure, it’s time to embrace innovative, agile infrastructure arrangements such as cloud technology and service models that shrink spending at the bottom of the pyramid to improve spending in the middle and the top. These investments are important because the model of care is changing as medicine itself continues to evolve. With a bimodal approach to IT, healthcare providers can create offerings focused on changing patient needs.
When CIOs, clinicians and patients understand how interrelated their needs are in the hierarchy, this can ultimately help bring stakeholders together to customize, optimize and maximize investments.
LISA PETTIGREW is general manager for healthcare and life sciences in the Americas at CSC.