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It’s common to hear healthcare providers complain about how technology, rather than helping them, gets in the way of their efforts to deliver care. Basic data input into electronic health records (EHRs), quality reporting, data sharing – all consume time that could be spent talking to patients.
But hospitals, health systems, and private practices must understand that the massive amounts of money they invest in EHRs and other digital technologies changes the very nature of what their organizations are.
“The day you made that investment you became a software vendor,” David Chou, CIO of Children’s Mercy Hospital Kansas City, tells Healthcare IT News Editor-in-Chief Tom Sullivan. “We all need to think like software companies because we are both hospital and software shop.”
For starters, that means having a strong focus on the end user.
“Thinking like a software vendor — if not technically becoming one of sorts as some hospitals are, in fact, doing today — starts with considering clinicians, administrators, executives and, really, all employees to be actual customers and then serving them as such,” Sullivan writes.
Another trait of modern software companies is their willingness to rely on iterative development, testing and getting feedback from early users along the way. Indeed, some providers and medical researchers already use iterative models to develop new medical devices and drugs, according to Adrian Zai, clinical director of population informatics at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Laboratory of Computer Science.
While some would argue that the last thing providers need is to focus on technology, HIMSS Analytics global vice president John Daniels suggests a proactive approach to technology not only helps providers fulfill their main mission of delivering care to individuals and populations, it can have other benefits.
“Hospitals do have to provide some level of support for those EHR users and that takes a new thought process and resources,” Daniels tells Sullivan. “I have even seen some create their own capabilities, build in-house software born out of a specific need they have but couldn’t find on the market or didn’t want to pay for and then turn around and monetize it through a business strategy.”