We are currently at a crossroads in the healthcare industry. Executives are working overtime to try to figure out how to connect and integrate data to best support clinical practice and patient care management. With health systems concerned about balancing both needs, they now need to figure out how to leverage data to get the best value out of their investment. Improvement and innovation in technology are slowly but surely enhancing the industry, but health systems are constantly being assaulted with software companies trying to sell them something. Thus, healthcare executives are left with the eternal question: Which pieces fit together best to create value and improve patient care?
One of the biggest challenges in making these types of decisions is the relative lack of individuals who understand not only clinical practice, but also operations and IT. This is a unique set of skills, and few cross all three boundaries. As a result, health systems often try to put people with different combinations of this skill set in a room together to make vital decisions.
These challenges, combined with the surplus of technology options, make it extremely difficult for health systems to overcome the solution/application overload. For healthcare IT innovators to succeed in this type of environment, they should consider the following:
- Understand the problems: Executives are more willing to listen to the potential benefits of a software solution if it is directed at problems they are actively looking to address. For example, if a health system is interested in implementing a mobile strategy and they know they need to get mobile applications, they’re going to look at companies offering mobile solutions across the board. It is vital for companies to know what health systems are looking for and what problems they’re trying to solve – each department is still trying to solve their own daily problems, but there are higher level issues that health systems are trying to address as well. If you’re not addressing what they need, the solution isn’t going to make an impact.
- Know the day-to-day: When creating technology, it is important to know and target whoever is using it – the needs of a physician or nurse will affect how they use a solution or tool. For example, nurses often go on “road trips” within the hospital, transporting patients from one unit to another, which often means long periods of time with other floor nurses watching their patients. Monitors located in hallways alerting nurses to patients who need help aren’t beneficial if the nurse is on a different floor without access, or busy caring for another patient at the bedside. Forcing nurses to run and check another alarm is a disservice to both patients. Being able to understand the day-to-day of care teams is vital to solving the problems they face.
- Simplify workflow: A compelling workflow solution is vital. If you sell a software solution at a corporate C-suite level and it doesn’t help improve the workflow of care teams, you won’t get the adoption you’re looking for among employees. One of most important qualifications for successful adoption is workflow improvement. Without this, the technology is bound to fail.
With any healthcare industry innovation, it is vital to keep the focus on solving these issues first, before tackling anything else. Doing so will lay the groundwork for success.