4 Reasons Hospitals Need Leadership Collaboration for Success in HIT Implementations

Leadership is an important element in successfully steering a hospital through any health information technology implementation effort. Strong leadership will help hospital staff adjust to barriers that may accompany health IT implementations and slow down success.

Similarly, hospitals and health systems that address HIT implementations as enterprise-wide efforts, instead of as IT department projects, may see easier, more efficient and more successful implementations. According to Eric Zerneke, Arcadia Solutions, "The most important factor is to have all C-suite executives, administration professionals, physicians and financial executives to be present from the very beginning. It is critical to ensure buy-in initially for seamless initiation." Not convinced? Here are four reasons hospital C-suite executives need to collaborate across departments, making HIT an enterprise effort.

1. To answer tough questions about future IT initiatives. According to Eric Mueller, services president at WPC, a healthcare technology consulting company, executive collaboration is critical to moving the needle forward in any healthcare ecosystem. C-suite executives often focus on tactical aspects of HIT, such as meeting government mandates like meaningful use and ICD-10. To truly thrive, Mr. Mueller recommends that executives across the hospital come together to turn those requirements into advantages.

"For example, a hospital should look at its electronic medical system and ask the hard questions, such as: 'Can we continue to innovate with this platform, or are we stuck being completely reliant on one vendor?' Answering these questions requires input from technology, clinical and finance departments, to name a few," says Mr. Mueller. "Each area has different wants, needs and incentives. Collaboration allows for everyone to speak a common language, which is critical to the hospital's viability with HIT," he adds.

2. To manage the changing health IT landscape. It is important for CIOs to continually educate fellow executives about the constantly changing health IT landscape, says Edmund Collins, MBA, CPHIMS, vice president and CIO of Martin Health System in Stuart, Fla. Since the HITECH act, meaningful use, HIPAA and ICD-10 are just a few of the key programs that influence IT decision-making today, all executives need to be able to speak intelligently on these IT issues.

"[Making] collaboration a priority can provide the extra boost that is sometimes needed to move [HIT] initiatives out of the conference room and into the board room where the strategic significance can be realized," says Mr. Collins.

3. To control the large amount of planning and resources required for HIT.
Due to the sometimes overwhelming amount of planning and resources required when planning a successful health IT strategy, Ron Nuttall, director of integrated applications at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, recommends that executives work closely with their IT counterparts to plan the solution right from the beginning.

"I would strongly recommend the 'measure three times and cut once' approach. [The implementation] process takes precise knowledge of the business reporting needs, considerable expertise in planning the support infrastructure and a well-documented and detailed plan of action," says Mr. Nuttall.

4. To build effective and sustainable HIT infrastructure. Effective long-term improvements to a hospital's HIT systems can only happen through the development of cross-departmental project teams, says Chris Fox, CEO of Avantas, a healthcare workforce management company.

"[Healthcare professionals] often talk about the need to 'bridge the gap' between departments. [Cross-departmental] teams focus on the importance of a common strategic goal and the overall impact it can have on the hospital," says Mr. Fox. "This should provide the hospital's IT department with a better starting point and a more clear idea of what they need to do to fulfill [HIT implementation for the hospital]," he adds.

When hospital executives collaborate cross-functionally, they emphasize the implementation of health technology as an enterprise-wide effort. When the IT department receives this support, the implementation process can be more effective. Furthermore, collaboration at a high level in a hospital or health system can permeate the entire organization, making the barriers that typically accompany health IT easier for everyone — physicians, nurses, clinicians and management — to handle.

More Articles on Health IT Implementations:

Survey: 67% of Healthcare CIOs Face IT Staff Shortages
4 Best Practices to Achieve Stage 7 in EMR Adoption: University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics Case Study
4 Points for a Strong Leadership Agenda During Health IT Implementation

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