How medical CIOs can lead their digital transformation

Technology can transform healthcare, but the pace of change is slow. Here's how CIOs can accelerate that change by prioritizing certain things
5 July 2018

Healthcare will benefit from more technological advancements. Source: Shutterstock

Technology has impacted every aspect of life, even those that we don’t pay attention to every day.

When we think of it in the context of business, we think of digital disruptions and transformations in manufacturing and banking and finance more than anything else.

But the truth is, new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT) affect every industry and field.

Take medicine, for instance. It faces unprecedented demographic challenges that increase demand at a time of widespread fiscal austerity. Technology-powered solutions are making a huge difference in this sector.

However, for many medical companies, change is slow because leaders are overly cautious – and they should be.

“Digital transformation offers great opportunities for healthcare provider CIOs to shape a new future for their organization that must deliver more and better healthcare without any guarantee of corresponding increases in budget. But, it can be difficult to know where to start in a highly politicized environment where poor decisions can cost lives,” said one of Gartner’s Research Directors, Mike Jones.

In order to balance responsibilities and deliver results, here are five priorities Gartner suggests medical CIOs to focus on in order to drive digital transformations successfully.

#1 | Improving financial insights to better align it capabilities

Healthcare companies typically tend to find it difficult to gain visibility into the true costs of delivering care.

This puts them in the dangerous position of making strategic changes without fully understanding their financial impact.

This problem is further compounded because they often lack the mature enterprise architecture capabilities needed to identify and design solutions that can improve clinical and financial outcomes.

In order to overcome these obstacles, collaborating with the chief financial officer (CFO) and chief medical officer (CMO) is critical.

The trio must identify and launch a pilot to test specific use cases using advance cost-accounting methodologies and system adoption.

Once successful, the CIO should scale up the pilot across the organization.

#2 | Using enterprise architecture to plan for a digital real-time health system era

When technology assumes a dominant role in the success of healthcare delivery, the technology environment becomes more challenging to manage.

According to Gartner, healthcare providers that lack a mature enterprise architecture function have more difficulty managing the transition to digital business architectures (such as a real-time health system).

Succeeding in such an environment demands that the CIO works with managers and clinical leaders to create high-level strategies that lay out the desired future state of a real-time health system-enabled organization.

#3 | Establishing key performance indicators to measure digital progress

Metrics and measures of success must change with times. In the digital era, healthcare organizations must focus on adopting new metrics to assess performance.

CIOs must institute new digital key performance indicators (KPI) measurements that reflect optimization and transformation efforts as soon as possible.

They must also add explicit outside-in performance metrics to ensure that optimization efforts are focused around the patient and can be linked to positive healthcare outcomes.

#4 | Rationalizing application portfolios to create new digital value

Gartner’s claims that many healthcare providers fail to realize the full value of their existing technology investments, such as electronic health records (EHR) and telemedicine.

Therefore the first step is to identify and evaluate the value that each application provides within the organization.

Once an evaluation is made, CIOs must aim to optimize their application portfolio using four core strategies:

  • Reducing application procurement costs
  • Reducing application costs in IT
  • Improving joint IT and business costs, and
  • Enabling business innovation

In order to drive change successfully, CIOs must communicate all changes in terms of the wider organizational strategy and intended outcomes. Doing so helps stakeholders respond positively to decisions.

#5 | Creating new ways to assess the value of electronic health records

Eighty percent of healthcare CIOs in Gartner’s 2018 CIO Agenda Survey felt their EHRs had not yet delivered the intended ROI, with 50 percent reporting moderate or minor returns.

Current valuation models based on conventional notions of ROI fail to capture the full benefits of EHRs. Therefore, organizations embrace a mindset of continual improvements, and create formal processes and governance for all stakeholders.