Providence CIO: Healthcare must overcome 'technical debt' to expand innovation

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When it comes to successfully adopting and integrating technology, the healthcare industry has traditionally lagged behind all others, according to B.J. Moore, CIO at Renton, Wash.-based Providence. 

In a recent op-ed published in Health Progress, Mr. Moore outlined how healthcare organizations can "catch up with the times" and overcome the "technical debt" associated with the industry's slow adaption to the drastic world changes introduced by new technology.

"The challenge is that the technology infrastructure in healthcare is still 15 to 20 years behind other sectors," Mr. Moore wrote. "To catch up with the times, healthcare needs to overcome its deep 'technical debt' by significantly upgrading the antiquated and fragmented information systems we're using today."

Here are five insights on how to increase tech adoption, according to Mr. Moore:

1. Learn from tech companies. Observe high performing tech organizations, such as Microsoft, where Mr. Moore spent 25 years of his career before joining, and combine their best practices with the healthcare organization's mission.

2. Build a tech foundation. Healthcare organizations need a reliable and stable infrastructure in place before launching innovative technology. To do this, organizations must transition data from outdated applications to a single platform, such as the cloud, which will free up resources and allow the hospital to invest in innovation.

3. Give caregivers more flexibility. Reduce redundancies and inefficiencies that come with an excess of software applications by implementing initiatives, such as a single enterprise resource planning system, for caregivers to access information. Using technology to streamline caregivers' resources allows them to leverage a strong wireless network and makes room for more operational flexibility.

4. Evaluate how tech will affect operations. Providence practices application rationalization, a process Mr. Moore defined as "a thoughtful streamlining of what software we keep and what we discard." The health system uses this process to simplify and standardize its electronic systems, including its Epic EHR.

5. Consistent, personalized care empowers patients. Deliver on healthcare consumer expectations by creating customized interactions for patients, based on their genetic and individual health information.

Editor's note: This article was updated Jan. 9 at 4:45 p.m.

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