Five Things You Should Know About Agile Health
Healthcare is undergoing a transformational shift, moving away from episodic treatment and toward long-term health and well being. Patients are making better informed decisions about their health, payers — whether private or public — are seeking to cut per-capita costs while improving outcomes, and healthcare providers are adopting patient-centric models of care.
An agile and flexible IT infrastructure is essential to building and supporting these new models of care. Agile health means enhancing decision making through access to better information, improving coordination across the healthcare ecosystem, and supporting the move to new models of care.
The Role of the CIO
With the move to a coordinated, patient-centric ecosystem underpinned by agile and effective IT, it is vital that the CIO — not only as chief information officer but also as chief innovation officer — become an enabler of business change, championing innovation and transformation.
The CIO’s role is to remain at the forefront of innovation by understanding what solutions are emerging, how they will benefit the organization, when and where partnering makes good business sense, and knowing the right time to bring new technologies into the organization.
Here are five areas where CIOs can apply practical agile health strategies to ensure that their organizations achieve better healthcare delivery and outcomes while controlling costs.
1. Agile health means flexibility
Some analysts say that CIOs need to innovate to improve care, but that they are held back by an environment where as much as 70% to 80% of IT budgets are spent simply “keeping the lights on.” Instead, leaders should focus on creating a more flexible business and operating environment that engages patients in diverse settings through multiple communication platforms. CIOs must drive flexibility into their organizations by establishing an agile health program that facilitates the move to new models of care.
2. Agile health means interoperability
One of the biggest challenges healthcare organizations face is sharing data effectively, securely and ethically. Today, the drive toward population health and personalized medicine is leading to an ever-tighter connection across the health ecosystem — care delivery organizations, care management organizations, payers, patients and even life sciences organizations. The challenge for the healthcare CIO is how to use this growing mass of information to achieve better care for individual patients and patient populations. By creating an agile health environment, CIOs can improve interoperability and collaboration across internal operations and better engage the broader healthcare ecosystem.
3. Agile health means talent optimization
As new technologies are brought into healthcare organizations, IT departments need to change their skill sets and the way they work. CIOs need to ask themselves: Are internal staff members sufficiently skilled and trained to run the new systems and processes? And is that the best use of their time? CIOs need to adopt new operational models to make the best use of the talent they have, and they need to leverage trusted service providers to manage legacy applications and other tactical activities required to run the business.
4. Agile health means security and compliance
Securing electronic health records (EHRs) and other applications is challenging but critical for a service that deals with sensitive data and is as highly regulated as healthcare. Privacy and security regulations combined with regulations designed to stimulate adoption of EHRs mean CIOs need to find ways to meet compliance obligations. The stakes are extremely high: IT budgets may be constrained, but a healthcare organization subjected to cyberattacks faces potentially huge fines. In this highly charged environment, CIOs need to build the infrastructure and capabilities to manage security and compliance.
5. Agile health means value from investments
While healthcare organizations have spent large sums of money on EHRs and other systems, the systems’ effectiveness isn’t always optimal. In addition, healthcare organizations need to be able to combine information from EHRs, externally sourced databases and patient-generated data. These challenges keep physicians from focusing on their primary role — the care of patients. To maximize return on investment, CIOs need expertise that bridges the divide between clinicians and IT specialists to identify how commercially available products and tools can solve issues specific to the organization and its users.
Download the position paper to learn more.