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Whither Hospital CIO?

July 18, 2008
by anonymous
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Just the other day I met with the global head of a Big 4 consulting firm at breakfast. He likes meeting heads of organizations that are interested in changing the game and has views on a range of management of issues that draw on his experience. One of the thoughts he shared, and that intrigued me, was that most hospital systems with a revenue of less than a couple billion dollars have a tough time taking good technology management decisions.. ranging from technology choice to implementation to getting business value out of it.

In several ways it resonated with my experience as well. The reasons may be numerous. But in the main revolve around a critical threshold level of investment that may be necessary to have the management team, both for business and technology, to deal with hugely complex technology issues facing health care providers. The organizations with scale may also make sub-optimal decisions. However, they may be better able to get around it relatively quickly. Those who do not make the cut on scale, may nurse the wounds of a sub-optimal decision longer.

Then I saw the news of a small community hospital outsourcing its services.. I had not seen hospital level outsourcing in a while and thought of seeking your thoughts as to what is triggering such thoughts and action. Do you think outsourcing to an organization that can leverage scale works? Does it bring in efficiency? Does it help hospital management make better technology decisions? What do you think? What should the CIO do?



Patty Lavely is the CIO of memorial health, a 530 bed hospital:
On Sun, Jul 20, 2008 at 3:45 PM, Patricia Lavely wrote:

We are outsourcing the hosting of most of our core systems. The primary reason for going in this direction was to reduce our capital needs. We are in the process of implementing so I can't speak to other benefits yet. I do anticipate increased system reliability by our ability to maintain an adequate hardware environment.

Just thought of sharing an observation from the CIO of a community hospital that outsources:

Lange, Ruth Ann wrote:

As an employee of an outsourcing organization, I can speak to this and tell you that outsourcing for community hospitals has tremendous benefit to the organization. I currently work at a small community hospital and with a remote staff of application and technical experts supporting us, we provide a level of support that I really couldn't afford or find in this area.

Another area that many are looking at is remote hosting of core applications. Technology is now changing so fast, it is difficult for small, financially strapped hospitals to lay out such large percentages of capital.

Aren't most hospitals that are not part of a large system too small to go for outsourcing? Can they manage outsourcing? Of course large systems may easily do so as they may have the management bandwidth.. But small ones?