Immanuel Kant, the great German philosopher, was in the habit of keeping paper and pen on his bedside table. Often he would wake up in the middle of the night and jot down a thought or idea—then go back to sleep. One morning he awoke convinced he had discovered the answer to a problem that had puzzled him for months. While dreaming he had dazzling insight that seemed to break his mental log jam. He seized the paper on his bed side table eager in anticipation. There he found the words: “think in different terms”.
The entire healthcare industry has been forced to think in different terms as we weather the recession storm. Bill Holman, CEO of Baton Rouge (LA) General Medical Center asks, “…what type of healthcare industry will survive (the recession). We can’t go back to where we were…American’s deserve a better, more efficient healthcare. The economy is a mandate to change.” (HealthLeaders, February 2009). So the question becomes for HIT, how can we help create a different healthcare industry?
If we accomplish this, there will be no debate around the value of HIT. But first we must think in different terms. Most agree that technology for technology’s sake is not the answer. Value should be defined as technology’s impact on the business/clinical performance on the healthcare organization (and ultimately on the patient).
Every healthcare organization that has invested in HIT, should examine the value received to date. Compare the level of change and the outcomes experienced—both revolutionary and incremental to the investment of leadership expertise, capital and operating funds. Some organizations will be pleased with what they see–they will have good stories they can use to help build the case for more aggressive change. Others will be disappointed and need a midcourse correction. While others may not be able to fully answer the question.
As an industry, we have been planning, deploying and managing IT using the same approaches we have used for the past twenty+ years. Now is the time to think differently.