There was a lot of buzz recently when Jim Cramer made a comment on his show, Mad Money, recommending Apple buy Epic Systems. While that is one approach to tap into the healthcare market and gain market share, it will not transform the industry. Buying another healthcare technology company, like Epic, will not have the same impact if the operating model and processes do not change.
Instead, Apple or another major technology company must buy a hospital or a small health system to transform operations and take advantage of the latest technology solutions. Here are some ways in which hospitals would benefit from being owned by a technology company.
- Every hospital is a digital technology company. One of the highest operating department expenditures in a hospital operation is IT. A technology company mentality in a hospital will maximize the use of every toolset to drive organizational efficiency. This approach will change the culture by viewing the technology portfolio as a competitive advantage. Technology vendors have all made investments toward agile while hospital systems have invested heavily on the LEAN process. Incorporating agile will complement an organization’s Lean transformation journey to drive the efficiency goal.
- Opportunity to fast-track technology debt. The lack of cutting-edge technology is a problem in every hospital. Historically, technology is viewed as an expense. This mentality prevents the organization from keeping up with the technology trends that result in technology debt. A typical scenario for organizations looking to save on cost is extending the technology solution beyond the warranty support period. This practice makes it difficult to maintain the latest solution. Having a technology company as the hospital operator will ensure that the organization is technically prepared for the future.
- Use technology to eliminate waste. Every hospital organization goes through exercises to decrease expenses and identify opportunities to improve efficiencies. This is a prime target for using technology as a lever to create automation and promote the usage of robotics to create greater efficiencies. The goal is to allow the workforce to practice at the top of their skillset while shifting the manual work efforts to an automated process.
- Design thinking for the patients. Hospitals need to do a better job of accommodating consumer demands. Patients expect the same personalized experience as retail consumers. This is a perfect opportunity for a technology company to incorporate personalized design thinking principles to improve patient engagement.
- Address the technical talent gap. Healthcare industries have a talent gap, specifically around digital solutions. The future IT workforce must be proficient in cloud, data analytics, mobile-first, and social technology. The benefit of having a hospital operated by a technology company will eliminate the talent gap that exists today.
All five of these could make an impact. We need a takeover like this in the market to improve technology companies’ understanding and appreciation for the hospital’s operations. Without a massive change in the business operation, we will continue to see healthcare struggle and play catch up. I am a firm believer that for a major transformation to occur, there has to be a willingness to change the entire operating model. In this case, the influence of a major technology company will be a game changer.
This piece was written by David Chou, a digital transformation consultant and longtime advocate for leveraging technology as a competitive advantage. He has held leadership roles with several organizations, including University of Mississippi Medical Center, Cleveland Clinic, and most recently, Children’s Mercy Hospital. To follow him on Twitter, click here.