The Vision of a Health Information Technology Enabled Organization
Information technology will help healthcare organizations improve their ability to meet their missions. The road to achieving the vision of an electronic organization begins with an effective process for making organizational decisions about Information Technology (IT) and ensuring those decisions achieve the intended result. Effective IT governance is critical to this process.
The Governance Analogy
John Carver, a thought-leader and author on Corporate Governance, provides a model of corporate governance that can be used as a basis for comparison to IT governance. Carver contends effective corporate governance answers the questions of who is included in “we” and who is included in those we serve, what principles are used to judge our actions, and sets expectations for performance without defining the individual steps to get there.
Drawing conceptually from the Carver model of corporate governance, IT governance helps to ensure “we” is properly defined as the entire organization. If I am a Department leader and IT is not working on my extremely important project because the focus is on a project in another Department, the tendency might be to think my Department is “we” and the other Department is “they.” And we all know what the IT Department is in that situation… The term “governance” works well because it recognizes the importance of ensuring the various constituencies are served in decision-making.
Working on the right projects and being successful in those projects is especially critical in the current era of incentive payments and the movement towards value-based reimbursement. Through effective IT governance, all constituent groups of IT Services can determine the right projects with a long-term view. It is difficult for IT governance to supplant the need for individuals to hold themselves accountable to dedicating needed resources to an initiative, but it can highlight the importance individual projects hold for the broader organization and make expected results clear. A governance-style approach helps to develop alignment of the various players internally and facilitates momentum that can push the effective use of IT forward.
IT Steering Committee
An IT Steering Committee can be an important component of the governance process. With the goal of IT governance to make effective decisions about IT and ensure results, IT Steering Committee members will have responsibility in the area of Communication, IT Strategy, Systems Evaluation, Implementation Oversight, and Investment Monitoring.
The Value of Governance
Ultimately, an IT Steering Committee and IT governance process that does not add value will not be successful. IT governance needs support from executive leaders, and making things better is the best way to get the support. An effective IT governance process will enable contemplation and quick action as required by the situation; help difference-makers turn ideas into reality; ensure project teams are set up for success; and ensure goals are developed and met.