Monday, November 7, 2016

When You Run, You Are Going to Sweat

Susan Pretnar
President at KeySys Health LLC

Why aren’t more things this simple? When it comes to today’s healthcare environment, the people responsible for managing provider practices and clinics seem to be running pretty hard and sweating more than ever, but not the satisfying sweat of accomplishment. They are sweating how they are going to be responsive to patients and keep them healthy, how to care for their employees and make them productive, how to keep the lights on and stay in compliance with rules and regulations that affect the business. That is, they are sweating running a business.

The title phrase hit me as I was listening to a commentator express the obvious about a topic under discussion. The running analogy is most poignant when applied to managing information technology in the healthcare world:

When you buy technology, you are going to have to invest in it

It doesn’t matter what business you are in: it can’t be said any more plainly. Based on current average IT expenditures and the number of breaches experienced by healthcare businesses, that fact still seems to be ignored or simply not believed. Invest in ‘what’ you might ask: invest in, maximize and support current technologies (including upgrading the basic EMR you bought a few years ago); invest in greater communication capability; invest in education and training; invest in a strategy for adding future technologies.

In truth, investment is only necessary if you are not really going to act on the threat to abandon your patients and your business in 2017. In spite of statistics about impending provider shortages, where IT infrastructure is concerned, healthcare entities are still expected to manage their practices like every other business, or cease to operate. Pressure to add technological capability is escalating, on the one hand because of incentives, penalties or regulations, but even more so because patients are becoming ‘consumers of healthcare’; expecting to interface with their healthcare providers like they do other services.

Accepting the idea that patients want to compare prices for treatment, want to communication with you like they do their bank, want to be assured you can protect the privacy of their information, and want to question why you are recommending a certain treatment plan when Google suggests otherwise, is still being resisted in healthcare. In truth, the people and technology needed to succeed in this present and future operating reality will cost any healthcare business more time and money than they are accustomed to investing.

The not so simple solution is ‘when you buy technology, consciously plan to invest your time and financial support to maximize its use’. Celebrate every successful implementation and learn from inevitable mistakes.

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