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Consulting CIO as a Strategy Driver of the under pressure Healthcare Industry

By Niranjan K Ramakrishnan, CIO (IT), Sir Ganga Ram Hospital

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Niranjan K Ramakrishnan, CIO (IT), Sir Ganga Ram Hospital

While describing the current state of the healthcare CIO role according to Jim Turnbull, CIO University of Utah Health Care, uses the military-inspired acronym VUCA: Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity.

Stakeholders of Healthcare Organizations are seeking relevant and credible deliverables from the Healthcare CIO in the ever growing industry such as:-

·  Assessment of the real status of health IT in the medical practice.

· Scope definition of the business requirements when acquiring IT system.

· Process to choose a right IT vendor / partner.

· Demonstration of tangible benefits with the investment on IT.

·  Ensuring the clinical outcome of practice' to improve patient care.

·  Business Process and Human Resource improvement using Health IT.

· Data Integrity & information security in the organization.

· Adopting innovation to reduce costs but ensuring the patient safety intact.

One of the unique challenge of healthcare CIO as per HealthSystem CIO portal is, "Healthcare CIOs never own both the data content and application layers of any meaningful technology, at the business transformation level. With rare exceptions, the CIO’s role in any enterprise-wide technology implementation is second chair to leaders in other verticals.  The CEO, along with HR, owns the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.  Clinicians ultimately own the EHR.  CFOs own revenue cycle and general ledger.  CIOs own just email" 

One may wonder how a typical healthcare CIO would deliver everything without owning anything?

Experienced CIOs help in gaining significant perspective on healthcare consulting for small and large healthcare institutions from the strategic and tactical approaches whether it is mainstream or niche. The structured consulting package will help the organizations related to internal controls, technology revamping, regulatory compliance, reimbursement and cash flow improvement.

As per the National health Portal as on May 2016 there are 30,273 hospitals listed in India.

Probably less than 5 percent of Indian Hospitals may fall under the category of corporate hospitals with 1000 beds and approximately 10 percent of hospitals may afford to have a full time CIO. For remaining category of the hospitals in India especially less than 300 beds, what could be the possible option to define the health IT roadmap and make the best out of the IT innovation?

Role as a typical Consulting Healthcare CIO begins as an auditor of the ground situation, recommends strategy for realizing the value of investment with total cost of ownership over a period of time, define the requirements by unambiguous workflow statements for implementation, ensure that the final go live and stability of the implemented system is achieved.

Emerging technology is the backbone of the healthcare organization's efficiency. SMAC, IOTs and all leading technologies increased the awareness and demand of the regulatory compliance resulted the complex business environment in Healthcare. Existing investment in technology, varied level of implementation, challenges in the adaption of the implemented technology, mismatch between the organization growth Vs the adapted technology, dynamic vendor -organization engagement etc have created the need for hospitals to develop new processes and enhance their existing systems and software.  

Hospitals should start focusing on IT audit that would help the organizations in the following:

  • Review of the existing IT system
  • Increasing the value of investment
  • Software, Hardware and vendor selection
  • Adaption techniques of IT in the Clinical functions
  • Integrated Healthcare IT platform
  • Internal controls & IT governance
  • Data Integrity checks
  • IT Infrastructure review and revamping

Most of the Healthcare business organizations require help in assessing the effectiveness and efficiency of organizational practices and core business operation. Outcome of the international consulting firms internal audits are complex reports which are not easily understandable and adoptable by the healthcare organizations. Key deliverable of the consulting service is actionable activities without creating dependency on the consultant for future. Audit reports and recommendations are fully backed by evident data comparing with market standards relative to the organization's resources and structure.

Innovative deliverables of the due diligence will be fully customized based on the organization's size and structure based on significant effort and expertise. Wherever the organization wish and take interest, consulting CIO shall empower the organization and replicate internal Champions to thrive once the consulting offer is complete. Improved communication platform, infusing the best practices of the peer industries such as project management, risk management, transparent environment, and collaboration platform to ensure a corporate and professional outlook within the unstructured service industry. Engagement model would be relatively the value based.

Primary role of an virtuous Healthcare CIO is to construct a resilient internal management team within the healthcare organizations, purge the dependency on external consultants, propose,  structure and implement an integrated solution to fit the current and future requirements of the organizations. 

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