When trying to develop a technology strategy for your organization you often find yourself overwhelmed by the differences of opinion within your organization.
Application users have certain expectations of the technology that should help them with their day-to-day workflow. The organizational leadership team may have competing interests between what is required from a clinical integration standpoint and what is needed to get claims out the door. Striking a balance between what you feel is right for the organization and what your leadership team is telling you is often not the same.
Here are five common pitfalls to avoid when developing your technology strategy:
- It’s not a democracy
You would think the most direct approach to strategy development is to gather your leadership team in a room, present various options, and then simply ask what everyone thinks to try and build a consensus. The theory is that since you have some very smart people on your staff it stands to reason that you can collaborate to come up with a solution that makes sense for the future of the organization.
However, what normally occurs is that everybody has his or her own agenda. Each solution is weighed against the impact to their individual staffs and individual departmental metrics. The winner in this scenario is often the team member that can “outwit,” “outplay,” and “outlast” the other leadership team members. Keep the focus on ideas that benefit the entire organization.
- Anything can be customized
Trying to sift through the technology options to find the solution that’s right for your organization is difficult since every application can be customized to meet any need. The CIO must strike a balance between keeping the application’s core functionality intact and customizing the application to meet new workflow requirements.
The challenge is that the more you customize the more difficult it is to apply patches and version upgrades. Get too far away from the core functionality and you may make supporting your application more difficult. In fact, this is the reason some organizations choose to change vendors since after many rounds of customization, they end up with a patchwork of interfaces and custom programming to try to meet user demands.
To prevent this from happening in your organization, make sure that when you evaluate technology solutions, you look at the “out-of-the-box solution” to get a true “apples to apples” comparison.
- Being married to a vendor
You can often set your clock to a “change of leadership” leading to a “change of software” vendors. It’s not necessarily that CIOs are married to a certain vendor, it’s more about remaining in their comfort zone. They have relationships with certain companies and have attended enough of their conferences to know in what direction that vendor is headed. So all too often your CIO will take advantage of their initial honeymoon period at the organization and pitch the idea of switching vendors.
While making such a switch may be the right move, tread carefully before taking such a monumental step. The disruption in the operation and the anxiety such a change can cause may offset any potential benefits.
- Not understanding total cost of ownership
I have personally seen the reaction of senior leadership when they realize what the total cost of ownership (TCO) will be for a new health information technology solution. It’s beyond sticker shock. It’s more like the reaction you get when talking to the finance officer in the car dealership: all those “out the door costs” add up.
The actual cost of the software can make up a fraction of the total cost of ownership. Expand your conversation to include factors like: backfill of staff, accounts receivable run down, legacy system archive, dedicated internal staff, project management, temporary project resources, training resources, go live support, revenue protection and risk management.
There’s more than just the price tag to consider when evaluating the TCO of possible technology choices.
- Preconceived notions
If you’re developing a strategy that you hope will take you into the next 10 or 15 years, you need to approach it with an open mind. Expand beyond typical vendors out there, and evaluate some that may be enjoying a resurgence. Don’t limit your request for information to only those vendors that you have worked with in the past.
Put aside your preconceived notions of particular vendors. Start everyone from the same level playing field and allow them to make their case. They may not make the cut, but they may give you other information concerning new features or new ways of doing things that you can use to challenge the other vendors that make it to the next round.
All the above pitfalls come from real life experience. These scenarios are often driven by organizational cultures which can kill change. The most common response to a workflow process question is: “that is the way we’ve always done it.”
Most people – and organizations – hate change. Don’t underestimate the underlying organizational culture which may be averse to change, or the technology staff that may be fearful of having to learn a new system.
Helping your organization navigate the technology strategy development minefield is no easy task. But understanding and avoiding the pitfalls that lie ahead will help you stay focused on what is best for the organization.
For more information on how to optimize your system and avoid common pitfalls, download our roadmap, Avoiding 11 Pitfalls of System Conversions.