In a successful organization, is IT responding to requests from business leaders, or are CIOs presenting ideas to the business to help improve efficiency and usability? Or is it a combination of the two?
It’s a debate as old as time — or, at least, as old as the dawn of IT departments. What’s far more important are the conversations taking place, which revolve largely on what can be done to ease the burden of providers.
“In many cases, not only is IT at the table, IT is the table,” said Bradd Busick, SVP and CIO at MultiCare Health System, during a panel discussion. “And so, being able to drive thoughtful dialogue with our partners about capabilities that they might not have thought of is critical. It’s part of us earning the right to be heard.”
Vik Krishnan (General Manager, TeleVox), who also participated on the panel, along with Michael Elley (CIO, Baptist Health) agreed. Now, more than ever, “a good CIO operates like a business-minded technologist,” he said. “It’s their job to listen to those problems and help prioritize and find ways that IT can essentially address them.”
What leaders like Busick are learning is that doing so requires a different tactic. At MultiCare, his team has adopted a plan-do-study-adjust strategy in which leaders from across the organization meet every 90 days to evaluate current initiatives and determine whether changes need to be made.
As a result, the organization has become nimbler, he noted. “The wins that come out of these 90-day windows are the things that drive our roadmap. They help dictate the pace and the capabilities that we go after.” At the same time, “they’re frequent enough that they allow us to pivot so that we don’t get stuck in a two-year-long implementation.”
Business partners in the driver’s seat
The other key benefit to these 90-day engagement windows, according to Busick, is that by having business partners report on their projects, it puts them in the driver’s seat, while the CIO acts as a convener. “That’s the rhythm we’ve taken. It’s become more of a business review now than an IT event,” he said. “To me, that cultural shift tells me we’re on the right track.”
It also emphasizes the importance of involving other leaders throughout the process. For example, when MultiCare rolled out a new access center platform to create a more seamless experience, he brought in representatives from marketing, patient experience, and communications to head up the initiative, which made an immediate impact. “It wasn’t a technology project. It was led by the business; IT was simply an enabler.”
It’s indicative of the evolution the CIO role has seen, going from technologist to a leader who is “able to speak fluent business,” Busick stated. Part of that is being able to quantify the value of IT initiatives. As a CIO, “you’re always justifying the budget. Why is your staff the size that it is? Why are we paying so much for X solution?”
More than numbers
And while metrics can go a long way toward validating investments, sometimes it’s not just about the numbers.
When MultiCare launched Moxi, an autonomous robot that utilizes AI to make deliveries, Busick was able to deliver impressive numbers. In six days, it made 648 deliveries, working 364 hours (the equivalent of about 45 shifts) and saving more than 321,000 steps. For nurses, taking these tasks off their plate means being able to spend more time with patients, which is a big selling point. “These are the stories that catch legs in the hospitals,” he said. “When people see that the team is actually doing something to help remove a pebble in their shoes, it’s a win-win for the whole system.”
The ability to communicate that value — and in doing so, justify the cost of robots — is becoming paramount for CIOs and other leaders, noted Elley. “It’s painting a picture of why a piece of technology is going to be better for the organization. If it can diminish some of the pain, that’s what we’re trying to do.”
And it doesn’t necessarily have to be a huge pain to make a difference, said Busick. In fact, some of his team’s biggest wins have stemmed from issues they unearthed while rounding with clinicians. “These are things that didn’t come up at A3 meetings, but they’re tangible pebbles in the shoes of people who are doing frontline work.” For example, a monitor that doesn’t show vitals properly, or a cable for an anesthesia machine that easily becomes unplugged. “How do we fix that? How do we put solutions in place to prevent a problem before it happens? These are the most valuable things we can fix for our frontline staff.”
Krishnan concurred, noting that although transformational initiatives may garner the most coverage, CIOs should keep an eye out for low-hanging fruit. One example is referral appointments, most of which are still scheduled manually. By using TeleVox’s patient engagement platform, organizations can fully digitize the process, which has been shown to boost satisfaction within a short timeframe, he said.
Elley has had similar experiences at Baptist, where sometimes the most successful projects are those that start with a handful of doctors. “Start on a small scale, then see if you can build some momentum, make some progress, and grow it out.”
Another benefit of starting small? Lower risk of burnout, said Elley, who urged leaders to carefully consider how many initiatives they take on, regardless of size and scope. “We want to innovate and bring in new capabilities to meet those needs and demands and help with struggles we’re having, but it has to be done with conjunction with everything else we’re doing,” he noted. “It’s a balancing act.”
For CIOs, it means considering not just the benefits of adopting technology, but the impact it can have on the workforce. “We have to prioritize what we focus on, because there’s only so much we can do.”
To view the archive of this webinar—Communicating the Value of IT to Senior Leadership (Sponsored by TeleVox) — please click here.
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