I have spent a lot of time recently reflecting on the pace of the digital landscape in healthcare, and the pace of the industry in comparison with other verticals. The healthcare vertical has gone through a massive transformation with respect to the regulatory requirements to utilize an electronic system. If I were to build a new team from the start, here are a few fundamental principles I believe every senior technology executive should practice.
- Be A CEO. The CIO is essentially the CEO of the department. The leader must set up the department to be agile and flexible in order to accommodate change from the business organization. Every single employee must understand the values of aligning with the business objective. Quarterly based reviews are highly recommended, along with metrics for employees to target. Every non-profit organization will benefit tremendously by following the culture of a for-profit institution in driving value to the bottom line. As the CEO of the department, it is also critical to avoid speaking to your peers in technical terms; focus on business values and how the department drives value. An example is working with the marketing team to create a value proposition in population management. Instead of presenting the idea to work in conjunction with marketing to create a network infrastructure that allows interactions with patients, I would present it as a business solution from the CIO to manage the population lives of the citizens by leveraging social technologies, which includes analytics to allow predictive modeling of care. This allows the CIO to solve business problems by leveraging technology. Every industry and company has critical software that is used to manage the business; so essentially, every company is a software company. Always keep that in mind, along with the fact that you are the CEO of the software company, so always think business value before the technology component.
- Stop Managing Technology. CIOs must stop managing core technologies like switches, routers, servers, data centers, storage, etc. We must avoid the brand of the break-fix executive and the guy that only knows of keeping the lights on. Core technologies like the data center can be offloaded to cloud providers that can manage the environment cheaper, faster, and more efficient. Public cloud providers like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft all have about 1 FTE managing 20k+ servers. Why compete and replicate the environment internally when a service providers does it better? This is a big shift in mindset of the traditional IT executives, especially the ones in healthcare that have been involved in the industry for quite some time. Managing change is a difficult task, but being part of the change is a tougher task.
- Shift The Culture. The department and the staff must embrace change. Moving toward an environment of providing value cheaper, faster, and more efficiently requires a change in skillset from the department. The core technology team will need to embrace change and pick up the latest industry skillset. The cultural shift from traditional IT to embracing cloud technologies, analytics, converged infrastructure, etc. is a scary thought for the employees that have been working on the same skillset for an extended period of time. The biggest concern is job security, but if we do not pick up new skillset in any profession, there is always a risk of others that can provide value.
As the industry evolves, our management strategies and team strategies must also shift. Progressive organizations have embraced technologies to focus on consumer satisfaction. Delta airlines allows customers to pick and change their seats right before departure, Hilton allows customers to pick their own rooms now from their app, and Virgin airlines allow passengers to order their drinks and snacks directly from the touchscreen. These are all examples of where customers are the focus. In healthcare we always have the patients in the center, and now it is up us to provide the technology for our organization to excel and reach their potential.