4 tips on digital transformation from a healthcare leader

As we start to wrap up 2017, clearly, the focus this year has been on content services and digital transformation. We’ve been talking a lot about content services, so today we’ll focus on digital transformation in healthcare.

For a healthcare organization in England, it’s a privilege to be recognized as a Global Digital Exemplar. It means you “deliver exceptional care, efficiently, through the use of world-class digital technology and information,” according to NHS England.

A great example is University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation, a recent Global Digital Exemplar designee. The hospital serves approximately 1.3 million people. It also offers specialist services such as neurosciences, cardiac services and children’s intensive care to more than 3 million people. Additionally, the Trust is a major center for teaching and research in association with the University of Southampton and partners including the Medical Research Council and Wellcome Trust.

If your healthcare organization is looking for some great advice, you’re in luck. I recently had the chance to chat with Adrian Byrne, University Hospital Southampton’s director of IM&T.

Here’s a recap of his answers to questions many healthcare organizations would like to ask:

1. How do you determine your top priorities each year?

Our priorities don’t change year-on-year. We have a five-year strategy and our in-year priorities align with how we’re supporting that five-year strategic plan.

To get from where we are to where we want to be, we require more information sharing than what we do at the moment. But, in terms of sharing sensitive patient information, there’s a disconnect between knowing what people are allowed to do and what they think they’re allowed to do.

Is it the law or is it someone’s perception of the law? It’s a growing challenge because of the requirements to share more data. If you look at HIMSS Level 7, it’s all about interoperating with the community and that means sharing data, so we really need to get on top of this whole issue of patient consent and what we do with their data.

2. Is it possible to be truly paperless?

If three years from now is as far as you’re looking, then, you’ll probably still see paper. But what you won’t see is our organization managing that paper in an industrial-sized library that holds a million sets of case notes because we’ll have gotten rid of those.

Our challenges aren’t necessarily about getting rid of paper. Often, our challenges aren’t even really about IT.

Sometimes, it’s about things like the building we’re in. The buildings themselves aren’t ideal for things like wireless networks. You can’t just go install network cabling or power. If you’re in a building that was built 30 years ago, it wasn’t built with bedside computing in mind. Nursing workstations weren’t built with the kind of forward-thinking you’d need to install a half-dozen PCs. The old whiteboards that hang on the walls aren’t in areas where you can just replace them with displays.

3. Where do you see ECM going in the next 3 to 5 years?

I see it going to open data and more sharing. You can call it sharing. You can call it integration.

People talk about micro-services and platforms – it depends on what kind of language you want to use – but in terms of enterprise content management (ECM, also called content services), I hope we’re in a situation where you really only have to store information once and all applications will have access to it. And all views of the information will only have one version of the truth and one place where that version of the truth is held.

We want to consolidate our supplier relationships and our data platforms down to as few as possible. And, that might mean that not every application we’ll use will have its own data platform, much like the way some mobile applications use open data now. For example, you can buy an application to look at a bus timetable, but it uses data the transportation authority makes available.

4. How do you keep everything moving in the same direction?

It’s important for any organization to have strategic leadership that involves board-level engagement. It also involves senior users, and in a hospital, that means clinicians of all kinds.

When you get down to the project-level, you’ve got different teams involved, and you’ve always got to have user engagement, but you’ve also got to have some kind of executive sponsor for large projects. Your overall informatics strategy group doesn’t get involved in each individual project, but they’ll champion the overall strategic direction.

If you go to your board and tell them you’re going to do something, they’re going to ask, ‘does this person deliver?’ They’ll look at the other times you’ve come to them, whether or not you’ve been able to deliver and how often the advice you’d provided was correct. Credibility is important and while there are a number of accreditations for CIO and CMIOs, you can’t beat demonstrated success.

There you go. Great advice from a healthcare leader on digital transformation.

What questions would you have asked?

Julie Fogel

Julie Fogel

A content marketing manager by day, a rock star by night, Julie Fogel joined Hyland, creator of OnBase, in 2011 as a member of the Corporate Communications team. She currently covers healthcare for the Product and Solutions marketing team. As a “content coach,” Julie enjoys making the other members of the content team run laps.

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