Circumvent Dated Healthcare IT by Working with Innovative Vendors

"I can't get no satisfaction, I can't get no satisfaction, 'Cause I try and I try and I try and I try" -Rolling Stones

As an administrator, decision-maker or front-line worker, you don’t need to be told that the technology that powers your hospital is dated, bulky, and inflexible. With the rapidly changing landscape of modern day healthcare, hospital leaders are forced to find ways to adapt to changes in reimbursement models, mass industry consolidation, and shifting patient volumes and expectations. However, leveraging existing hospital technology and vendor solutions to actively respond to the obstacles that crop up as a result of these changes can feel impossible. After all, the legacy systems that power hospitals are huge and complex. Deploying a solution that responds to mandated changes or attempts to solve a goal can take months or years to roll out—at which point that solution may be irrelevant.

As a result, it’s easy to feel stuck or even held hostage by the multi-million dollar IT systems and integrations that cannot change on a dime. So where does a hospital who’s in deep with their health care EMR, EHR, and entire dashboard of traditional solutions go from here? Well, I think the answer lies in shedding some of the bulky layers and moving towards adaptability, flexibility and choice. Rather than continue down the path of working with large, traditional vendors, I think hospitals can look inward and then outward. By empowering teams from key departments (like physicians, nurse navigators or patient success administrators) to choose tools that enable their workflow and offer solutions to challenges introduced by value-based care, reporting requirements or, cost-cutting measures etc., hospitals can successfully respond to both problems and opportunities.

Much like how SalesForce sales and marketing tools allow a salesperson to do their job more efficiently and effectively, hospitals can encourage doctors, caseworkers and other key players to adopt tools that help solve the short and long-term issues that they face. If smaller, nimble vendor solutions that plug into current hospital IT systems can encourage care teams to better serve patients, capture relevant data, or even reduce episode of care costs, why not test these “plug and play” solutions? After all, hospitals are only as efficient and successful as the teams that operate them.

To illustrate, think of the existing hospital IT infrastructure as a tree trunk. The problem-solving vendor solutions are the branches, stemming off of the trunk. These branches are lighter, flexible and less permanent, but change the shape and reach of the tree.

Why Smaller Innovative Vendors to Overcome Big Challenges?

To draw a parallel, over the last 10 years, the vast majority of technology startups in Silicon Valley have made the move to smaller and more nimble vendors for a wide variety of internal functions. Startups realize that time is their most crucial asset and that working with smaller vendors for analytics, customer relationship management, payroll, and every other function that keeps a business operating, frees up a lot of time and lets teams focus on primary goals like innovation and growth.

Instead of further investing into dated IT infrastructure that will never be able to keep up with the rapid industry change that craves immediacy, flexibility, and adaptability, hospitals can divert their resources towards innovative vendors. By carefully adopting the technological breakthrough solutions of industry leading vendors, hospitals can digitize and begin solving real challenges in near real-time. The right vendors will solve challenges efficiently, while driving down cost, complexity and you guessed it, time.

How vendors let you operate better, for less.

Bringing on the right vendors to solve the right challenges for your health system is riddled with “wins”. The burdens brought from lengthy deployments, clogged resources, time restraints, and staffing and training issues, can be lifted from the equation.

Here’s how vendors can let your health system win:

  • Hospital won’t need to hire and manage system administrators to build out a data center, provision hardware, etc.
  • Vendor solutions are lighter, easier to follow, and tend to be better documented. This reduces staff training time and allows staff to employ the full suite of intended features.
  • Because many smaller vendors rely on cloud services like AWS, they can transfer the expense of their own IT / systems administration into customer-service and patient communication services.
  • No longer need to pay senior, full-time, on-site systems representatives to maintain a complex systems, like EPIC.

Can Cloud-Based Vendors Create Just-in-Time Provisioning?

In the same way the Amazon Web Services (AWS) lets technology startups, like PeerWell, take advantage of their expansive suite of cloud products and solutions to build sophisticated applications, hospitals can take advantage of the “plug and play” vendor solutions that emerge from this environment to solve real challenges. If you breakdown how a vendor builds upon cloud architecture, you can see a perfect analogy for how a hospital system could make use of the same methodology. To explain, innovators “plug” into Amazon’s suite of infrastructure and solutions and build on top of them. By leveraging the existing foundation and framework of cloud architecture by “grabbing” the pieces and parts needed to create something new—rather than build each and every component from scratch—a complex, full and focused solution can materialize in a fraction of the time.

A targeted solution can better serve the segment it was designed for as it is a direct response to an immediate need. Hospital teams can select the vendor that best meets their needs, “plug into” the existing IT framework and move forward. In this sense, just-in-time provisioning can be possible in healthcare. Solutions that solve problems “on the fly” instead of months after a roadblock is proven disruptive will change healthcare’s landscape at an unprecedented pace of progress.

Selecting the Right Vendors

In the final part of our 3 part series on, Updating Technology to Adapt to Value-Based Care and Healthcare Changes, we will detail how to select and scrutinize potential vendors for your health care system. Admittedly, opening up the floodgates and encouraging teams to select problem-solving vendors will create an impedance mismatch for the IT department. After all, your IT department will be relied on heavily when it comes to vetting the products and vendors used for each service line.

With this being said, a leading cloud-based solution shouldn’t require a lengthy set-up or deployment. The greatest time-spent by internal IT staff should be on evaluating the legitimacy of the solution and creating a framework that allows for staff to choose the right tools that can improve their workflow, better service patients, and meet wider hospital goals.

To read part 1 in this series, on "Adapting to Value-Based Care Means Updating Dated Hospital Technology", click here. If you're interested in learning more about how PeerWell can help your hospital reach cross-department goals, reach out.

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Hi, I'm Grace. I write all things surgery for the PeerWell blog. You may remember me from such titles as: "Diabetes & Joint Replacement 101" & "Sex After a Joint Replacement".

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