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IT People Are the Part of the Problem In Healthcare Right Now: Industry Expert

May 15, 2014
by Mark Hagland
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IDC Health Insights’ Scott Lundstrom argued that healthcare IT leaders need to move forward towards the new business and IT world

In his presentation “Four Pillars of HIT Innovation: Data, Cloud, Mobile, and Social,” at the iHT2 Payer Provider Evolving Business Models Summit in Boston on May 15, Scott Lundstrom, group vice president at the IDC Health Insights analyst/consulting firm, laid out a case for why, right now, IT professionals in healthcare are part of the problem, not the solution, in terms of where healthcare computing needs to go in the next few years. (Since December 2013, the Institute for Health Technology Transformation, or iHT2, has been in partnership with Healthcare Informatics through its parent company, the Vendome Group LLC.)

Scott Lundstrom

Speaking to an audience or provider and payer leaders, Lundstrom asserted that cloud computing, analytics, mobile computing, and social media will be the four pillars of change towards progress in healthcare going forward, on both the provider and payer sides of the industry. “The IT assets matter less now, because we’re chasing agility” as an industry in the coming years, as healthcare adjusts to policy mandates, cross-industry trends, and technology advances that are changing the face of healthcare.

As a result of all these changes, Lundstrom told his audience, power and influence are shifting away from IT departments in patient care and payer organizations and towards the business leaders in those organizations. Indeed, he said, the May 2013 IDC Business Technology Study, which was executed across all industries, found that IT departments in all organizations across all industries are now in both control of and directing the espending for, only 39 percent of all technology-related initiatives and projects, meaning that business (the c-suite, etc.) is increasingly wresting control away from the IT organization in any given business organization.

In that context, Lundstrom argued, “The IT organizations typically become the issue, not the technology,” as CIOs and other IT leaders in many cases attempt to hang onto power rather than working collaboratively as service providers to other departments and divisions in their organizations.

While he acknowledged that the IDC survey findings were multi-industry, Lundstrom told providers and payers that healthcare CIOs and other IT leaders needed to get the big picture and understand that “everything will be a service,” and that the rapid maturation of cloud computing and cloud services, the “BYOD” phenomenon, and the shift towards total mobility for workers in all industries, are ushering in a total revolution in healthcare, and he urged his audience to heed the winds of change, and think about the impact that cloud computing, analytics, mobile computing, and social media will have going forward—particularly the need in healthcare as in other industries for leaders and workers to access analytics-based information and data in real time on mobile devices, and to leverage that information to do their jobs, again, in real time.

Indeed, he noted, healthcare pioneer organizations like Kaiser Permanente and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) health system, have already incorporated cloud-based strategies into their core overall business and IT strategies going forward, and other provider leaders would do well to follow their example and consider how they might do so as well. He concluded by noting that, as the world changes hyper-rapidly, “non-traditional thinking will be rewarded, and he urged healthcare IT leaders to stop thinking about turf and to think instead about strategy for the future, based on the four pillars he had cited above (cloud, analytics, mobile, social media). With regard to social media, he said, “If you’re not connecting with your patients via social media on their mobile devices, you’re not engaging patients,” he said. “And you’ve got to be.”