During my career in healthcare IT, I’ve learned it’s helpful to be optimistic, but even more helpful to be pragmatic. An approach of “Hoping and Wishing,” as we know, accomplishes nothing. However, it might be in our organizations more than we care to admit. Having a realistic plan and executing against it is the best way to accomplish what we need to for our organizations and, in the end, our healthcare customers.
These days, as a Healthcare Industry Strategist, I have the opportunity, more than most, to meet and speak with healthcare CIOs across the industry. In the emergence of COVID-19 and the ensuing pandemic, we saw a wide variety of reactions from healthcare leaders supporting their organizations. We also saw a common challenge, all these leaders grappling with the same unexpected detour to their previous well-laid plans to manage their environments.
Responding to the pandemic we saw CIOs, seemingly overnight, adopt digital workplace solutions to move to new remote work models and embrace telehealth at previously unforeseen utilization levels to enable remote clinical care. Necessity drove these adoptions with time being both a requirement and constraint like we’ve never seen before, limiting the benefit of each organization’s standard long-term planning approaches. I wouldn’t call these reactions necessarily pragmatic as they had to be stood up almost overnight and had to deal with the here and now. Through these last two years a “new normal” is emerging. Before we get to that, let’s take a quick look backward.
2020 saw an emergency adoption of digital workplace solutions which coincided with the increase in the number of IT, business, and non-clinical staff working from home. These non-clinical teams now expect to continue to work from home (or at least more flexibly) moving forward. Organizations faced challenges such as:
- inconsistent performance and poor user experience across their distributed workforce
- difficulty establishing trust across the digital workspace
- sharing data across an increasingly fractured continuum of care
Since COVID gave you lemons, be a pragmatist. While the rapid acceleration in many organizations’ digital transformation journey was proof of the need to modernize and transform, the need to continue to support an evolving distributed workforce requires CIOs to get back to what worked before the pandemic: thoughtful planning. Not just the “let’s get this done” and “good is good enough” experienced at the beginning of the pandemic but, with more time, CIOs can assess and adjust their digital workspace solutions for the long-term. I use the word “thoughtful” because as healthcare executives define their hybrid work future (their “new normal”) they need to consider the employee experience and their overall wellness.
This has become one of the most valuable lessons of the pandemic. Ensuring the workforce, regardless of location, remains engaged and satisfied will be paramount in the successful adoption of these evolving new work models. Healthcare CIOs need to consider the unique needs of their organizations and the supporting technology. Choice and flexibility, along with freedom and control, helps everyone respond quicker and pivot faster to securely meet organizational requirements.
So, the question remains, how can a CIO do this pragmatically?
The simple answer is healthcare CIOs need to implement solutions that empower clinical and non-clinical teams. The metrics must center around increasing efficiency, productivity, and responsiveness in the distributed workforce models they establish in their organizations. Distributed workforce solutions will have a duty to alleviate clinician burnout by leveraging AI, automation, and modern applications, improving their experience translating to enhanced patient care. Extending this mobility and flexibility to administrative staff supports the bottom line by reducing attrition, while also increasing visibility and overall job performance.
Healthcare executives who can provide a flexible IT architecture are better positioned to support a distributed workforce and hybrid workspaces, securely and at scale. A modern solution that enables organizations to run, manage and secure edge-native applications on multiple clouds, across various locations and devices – yet still delivers end-to-end zero trust architecture inside and across application environments regardless of environment – is exactly how organizations maximize this new landscape.
The Pragmatic CIO empowers care teams and a distributed healthcare workforce with digital clinical workspace and work-anywhere solutions. Cloud-based, modern management of devices and virtual applications bring cost and scale efficiencies to end-user computing while virtual desktop infrastructure supports secure access to vital corporate resources, applications and data from any device, anywhere. From the outside-of-hours emergency call to the bedside consult, digital workspace and VDI solutions move with care providers and staff throughout their day, enabling secure, simple, and consistent access regardless of device or location.
No one can predict when COVID will be “over,” or when we’ll be fully adjusted to its existence, but the same thoughtful pragmatic approach that made organizations successful before its emergence is the same approach that will make them successful as they evolve and define their “new normal.”
Ed Deming is a Healthcare Industry Strategist for VMware, his career of over 20 years spans across some of the largest healthcare organizations, and he excels at challenging perspectives to define the right problem and build the right solution using the right technology. He also is an ambassador to the CIO Whisperers podcast, which is designed to champion CIOs, empower their teams, and influence the next generation of technology leaders.