In the healthcare space, much attention is often paid to the implementation of revolutionary new technology from electronic health records (EHR) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to analytics and cybersecurity solutions. Certainly, this is understandable given the importance of these functions to healthcare data management and the rapidly evolving capabilities of these systems to empower greater efficiency. However, with such a focus on the IT side of the house, it can be easy for organizations to neglect the importance of building out the right teams to support the technology and achieve the goals of the business.
At HealthTECH Resources, Inc., we spend an enormous amount of time consulting with the nation’s leading providers to help them fill talent gaps, plan against goals, and develop training and processes for end users. Every organization, of course, is unique in the specific needs and resources required for success, but there are some shared characteristics found in providers that tend to perform well. Here are strategies to consider.
#1 Plan Early, Plan Often
It goes without saying that organizations should plan how to achieve goals—not just prior to the launch of a new initiative but throughout the life of a project and beyond. Of course, having comprehensive plans in place can sometimes feel like a utopian pipe dream, but it is more of a possibility than you may imagine.
Often, we see organizations start with the idea that they need something “new” and “shiny.”
“We need a new EHR system” or “we need a more robust analytics tool.” These may very well be and often are true statements for a healthcare provider, but decisions shouldn’t start with a statement about technology. Start with the desired outcome and then work backward to determine the steps required to get there. “We need more transparency in our patient records” or “we need to better understand where there are inefficiencies in our processes.”
See the difference? From there, you can understand the steps required to get to the desired end state and build appropriate plans inclusive of both technology and talent.
#2 Balance Headcount with Specialized Outsourcing
Another key to building a successful technology team is recognizing where to maintain in-house resources and where to outsource for specialized talent. In many cases, it is not economical or practical to employ all of the various types of skill sets required for a particular project or initiative. That said, some organizations may try to handle everything in-house and run into inefficiencies or challenges due to a skills gap that could be filled with consultative talent. Maintaining the proper balance is key to success and is something we help providers with frequently.
#3 Consistently Iterate as Conditions Change
Again, this may seem like an obvious statement, but it is something that is more easily said than done. The reality is that conditions in your organization will change, regulations will be passed, new technology will be released, and some or all of these things may happen while you are in the middle of an implementation or other projects. It’s important to be agile, both in development and in mindset, and be willing to course correct, depending on your goals and on the directional changes to the business.
#4 Regularly Communicate with Your IT Team
Your healthcare IT team may consist of in-house professionals who work on site as well as other employees who work remotely. When you supplement your team with consultants, they may play an integral role in the short term or you may need their support for a longer amount of time. These consultants may work remotely, on site, or in a hybrid model.
How you communicate with your team, then, may fluctuate: by the project, by where your organization is in the project, and the employment status of those who are involved. In other words, one size fits all solutions aren’t usually the best, just as strategy number three indicates.
In a hybrid model, work can be asynchronous, so take that into account when planning meetings. You may, for example, need to announce meeting days and times further ahead of time. You may need to have the capacity for on-site meetings that offer Zoom or other video communication tools as a supplement for team members working remotely.
Be intentional instead of reactive, then, when planning meetings and other communications with a strong focus on clarity.
#5 Provide Necessary Resources
When setting goals for IT projects, ensure that team members have the resources they need to fulfill their responsibilities. This can include appropriate guidelines or relevant data. It could mean that team members have the autonomy they need to execute their assignments, and it can mean having the right human talent—and the optimal amount of human resources—to successfully implement the project.
Our healthcare IT consulting firm can help with sourcing the right experts for your project, filling in staffing gaps with the appropriate expertise.
#6 Focus on Engagement
Ensure that any greenlighted projects have the support of senior management. Having this buy-in is crucial to make sure that your healthcare IT professionals (whether in-house or consultants) receive the resources they need to execute the plan. When your healthcare organization is excited about an initiative and how it will benefit your patients and facilities, this will naturally energize the IT experts involved in the project. When well thought out, creative ideas are presented and met with enthusiasm, this will generate momentum that will energize IT experts to continue to be innovative.
#7 Ensure Your Organization’s Knowledge is Up to Date
Using EHR systems as an example, technology rapidly changes, becoming more intricately powerful. As just four examples:
- Blockchain technology will transform healthcare organizations as they securely exchange patient data, identify errors in medical records, and otherwise enhance the system’s security and performance.
- Artificial intelligence and machine learning will end up enhancing medical professionals’ abilities to problem solve and make crucial decisions. This will occur as systems leverage big data to create and analyze predictive outputs.
- Massive adoption of telehealth is radically changing the patient care landscape, allowing patients to receive care wherever they are in ways that reduce infection risk and more.
- FHIR will come with multiple benefits, including faster access to quality data in real time and an ability to seamlessly report quality measures—and, of course, its main benefit: enhanced interoperability.
Each of these exceptionally robust technologies will require specialized expertise as they become increasingly integrated with EHR applications. By remaining aware of how they’re developing; how they can be used today; and how to prepare for upcoming benefits today, you can position yourself for more efficient, cost effective operations.
Typically, IT personnel are busy with managing the healthcare facilities’ technologies instead of specializing in researching upcoming developments—and that’s logical. So, it can make sense to talk to people with expertise in modern healthcare IT solutions to see how your organization can benefit.
Professionals from our healthcare IT company keep up with technological innovations and can use this information to devise creative solutions to help your organization.
#8 Craft an Information Security Plan as a Guiding Light
With the increase in hacking and the sophistication of techniques used, it’s crucial to protect your technology. So, develop an information security (InfoSec) strategy to guard confidential patient information, organizational financial data, and more. For a well balanced, highly effective InfoSec strategy, consider these three elements:
- Confidentiality: Private information must be protected, visible only to people with the right to view it: medical professionals and the patient involved.
- Integrity: Your organization’s InfoSec strategy must also protect your data from people with malicious intent—those who would want to damage, alter, add to, or delete information. It should provide layers of protection from accidental damage.
- Availability: Although tight security is vital, people who need access need to have it seamlessly to avoid frustration and wasted time, which translates into wasted money.
Professionals from our healthcare IT consulting firm can support you in creating your own carefully constructed and targeted information security policy (ISP).
#9 Factor in Remote Patient Monitoring
Remote patient monitoring (RPM) involves the collection of patient data remotely; physicians can use this technology to monitor a patient’s high blood pressure or sugar levels as two examples. This data can be fed into the healthcare organization’s EHR system to keep all information in a single-source, real-time database.
Combining RPM information with data in the patient’s electronic health records is beneficial in numerous ways. Healthcare professionals can have access to a complete picture of the patient’s medical history, perhaps even including videos of any telehealth visits. This allows them to make more informed decisions in highly efficient ways. Plus, when patients have easy access to their own health information, including test results, this can empower them to engage more fully in their own health outcomes.
When a physician can see diagnostics over a period of time, they can evaluate a patient’s medical progress to make informed treatment decisions. This includes preventative care and long-term care as well as more immediate treatments. Professionals from our healthcare IT company can help with this crucial RPM-EHR integration.
HealthTECH Resources For Your Healthcare IT Solutions
This post contains just a few of the common traits we observe in the successful businesses that HealthTECH Resources works with; as mentioned, the specific talent you may require and the team structure that will work best for you is dependent on a myriad of factors. Please reach out if you could use help in sourcing specialized talent, developing training programs, or planning otherwise for success. And if there are other characteristics that have helped you to build a successful team, please share them.
PRESIDENT/CEO AT HEALTHTECH RESOURCES
Larry has specialized in building strategic healthcare relationships for over 25 years, helping the nation’s top payors and providers solve some of their most pressing business challenges through an intelligent mix of staffing services, training, and consulting.