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May 15 2013   12:45PM GMT

How to solve the complexity of hospital IT environments

Posted by: Jenny Laurello
EHR, health IT, Meaningful use, portfolio management

Leadership-KevinKernGuest post by Kevin Kern, CEO, Innotas

Between changing regulations, healthcare reform requirements and the pressures of tight budgets and small staffs — all amid a commendable drive to improve patient care — hospital IT departments are often overwhelmed by the task of providing technology to support existing and new programs.

IT departments must also phase out legacy applications and implement new solutions in order to offer the interoperability, performance and reliability that clinicians and other users demand. It’s no wonder many IT organizations feel stretched beyond their limits with all these responsibilities. Without a clear plan, the result of different IT initiatives can be a mishmash of programs and projects that are puzzling to even the most organized IT project managers.

This all-too-common situation points to a critical need for clarity. IT departments must gain better visibility into IT processes and resources in order to thrive. That’s why integrated IT portfolio management solutions are gaining ground as a smart way to track ongoing projects, organize resources and staffing, and give hospital leadership big picture views of the status of IT projects and an understanding of how they affect key hospital performance measures.

Navigating regulations and supporting strategy

Some hospitals and other healthcare organizations are struggling to deal with EHR and meaningful use mandates. They are working toward readiness upgrades required for ICD-10, and are trying to overcome the challenges presented by the Affordable Care Act. Each of these new regulatory thresholds must be treated as its own IT project, with separate resources, management and analysis. Hospitals can efficiently manage even the most complex projects — such as EHR/EMR implementations — while improving their ability to test projects for meaningful use criteria through the use of project portfolio management (PPM) and application portfolio management (APM) solutions. These solutions also help increase accountability across the dozens of projects and thousands of support hours associated with healthcare modernization.

Control costs and track financial impact

Hospital leadership must be confident that a new technology will save the hospital money — they can’t simply take IT’s word for it. A tool that provides more visibility into the financial impact of IT investments, as well as the ramifications of compliance penalties, is critical in demonstrating the value that the IT department provides to the hospital. Having a better handle on IT financials and resources also means organizations can focus more on deadlines,  and keeping much-needed incentive payments coming through the door.

Better visibility fuels innovation

End-to-end visibility of projects, their necessary reporting requirements and resources lets organizations plan for today as well as innovate for a more efficient, effective tomorrow. Developments like integration with consumer devices that capture medical information allow facilities to offer providers the latest solutions to help them deliver quality care to their patients.

The proper APM and PPM solutions offer significant strategic, regulatory, financial and competitive advantages. In today’s complex IT environment, these solutions are a “must-have” to provide a clear picture of where hospital IT projects have been, where they’re going and what value they deliver to the organization.

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