Innovating at the Intersection of IT and Care

doctor healthcare BYOD tablet ITBreaking down the silos between data sources and departments involves a complex blend of technology and people that, not surprisingly, can result in conflict along the way. However, the ultimate goal remains the same for all: protect the patient. Understanding the concerns of each department and encouraging communication amongst the groups can reduce this tension, allowing for innovation to take hold and enhance care throughout an organization.

For example, consider the implementation of mobile platforms across a health system. In the past, IT departments deployed and rolled out the technology – in a way, forcing physicians into it without giving them a say in the matter. As the bring your own device (BYOD) trend gained traction, physicians began to demand the ability to have access and leverage mobile technology, similar to their peers in other industries. This was a scary thought for hospital IT departments that had to think about not only their own systems, but also how physician behavior might affect security. It took time for the trend to become a norm; but more importantly, it required the IT team to acknowledge that mobility is a permanent healthcare tool – not just another temporary Band-Aid or fad – while care teams had to prove the value of this access while showing they could manage this power responsibly. These realizations, in conjunction with the benefits (providing improved access to information), give everyone a common goal and common direction to work toward.

This shift to a collaborative understanding also means that innovators need to be able to deliver features that are tailored to both audiences – the IT department and the physicians. It’s a delicate balance in focusing on the usability features that physicians are looking for, while also making sure that the solution is deployed in a way that adheres to IT department policies.

For an innovator, having the ability to understand both of these worlds is vital in merging them together and bringing technology trends to a nuanced market. Bringing only a physician’s perspective reduces the likelihood that you understand emerging trends that are proving worthwhile in other tech-focused fields and that will need reshaping to fit a healthcare need. On the other hand, if you’re only looking at things from a technology/IT perspective, you may not realize what the healthcare need is in the first place to build something caregivers are actually willing to adopt!

As innovators seek to balance these worlds, they should take inspiration from four key areas:

  1. Industry Issues: Knowing which regulations, buzzwords or pain points keep popping up puts innovators at the forefront of addressing problems on the horizon – before anyone else sees them coming.
  2. Competition: As an extension of industry trends, it is key to know what competitors (including vendors and leading health systems) are offering customers (who could be patients!).
  3. Market Development: Both in healthcare and IT, “hot breakthroughs” should help guide developments to address key pain points and drive efficiency, usability and access to information.
  4. Regulatory: Staying informed on regulatory approaches and issues worldwide can position you as a leader in terms of protecting and investing in patients and their data. Particularly for global technology, it is critical to make sure that you have the appropriate features and follow the expected standards to ensure that your product can be accredited globally.

As mobility has demonstrated, the traditional means of care can benefit greatly by leveraging technology. By working with both IT and caregivers, innovators can make this a reality.

Jonathan Draper is the Director of Product Management, Healthcare at Calgary Scientific. Jonathan directs the product roadmap and works closely with healthcare partners and institutions globally to develop innovative solutions that address clinical needs and meet the technical requirements of healthcare enterprises.