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The adoption of technology in healthcare organizations is notoriously slow. However, the speed at which technologies change is rather quick. To provide high-quality care and lower costs, hospital IT departments lay out an IT strategy that aligns with the vision and goals of the organization. Additionally, an IT strategy is not just about electronic health record (EHR) systems or enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems; it could also include tools for customer service and website technologies. Having a comprehensive IT strategy for the future can be a challenge, and looking ahead two or more years is crucial to the future success of an organization.
Let’s look ahead two years to 2022, and examine some of the opportunities that could make a difference for a healthcare organization.
- Merger or Acquisition (M&A): Will your hospital be acquired? Will you be purchasing more hospitals? That is the million or billion-dollar question. Increased financial pressure is still the driving force behind M&A activity. In many cases, these decisions are happening at the board level. Planning for the future becomes an even more significant challenge when senior leadership is not aware of M&A plans until plans have been finalized. While the number of mergers announced is growing, the dollar amount is shrinking. 2019 is trending to be another record year for the amount of money spent on M&A, and that amount does not include the technology costs that come after the fact. Do you have a plan in place should there be M&A activity that affects your organization?
- New Technology: As new technology comes to market or is adopted within a healthcare organization, many considerations come into play. The expectation for any new technology is that it will either improve operations or improve patient care. Looking ahead means understanding what the future of healthcare will entail. It means gaining an understanding of the modernization of technology and the needs of the communities that your organization server. For example, how will artificial intelligence (AI) transform care at your hospital? Don’t be afraid to reach out to your peers to understand lessons learned or to get tips.
- Customer Service: We live and work in the digital world. As the technology that people use continues to evolve, there is an expectation that organizations such as hospitals will embrace the technology to make their lives easier. While patient care models continue to change and shift, hospitals also need to consider how they are servicing their communities. An example would be deploying the use of chatbots on your website to help visitors answer questions or schedule an appointment. In 2018, Statista attributed 52.2% of all website traffic to mobile phones. Is your website mobile optimized? Are you using the data you collect about your patients to personalize communications? Data will drive how communication with patients or potential patients evolves, but staying ahead of the curve positions an organization as a leader in the community.
The healthcare system we know today will not be the healthcare system we know in the future. From changing and new technologies to patient engagement and population health, as hospitals continue to strive for improved outcomes, the above opportunities can all play a role in the future. With IT strategy, the key is to be proactive, not reactive.