Reform is Technology Dependent

Information technology is scattered widely throughout the health reform bill that was passed in the US. In order to accomplish many of the goals stated in the bill, information technology will be increasingly investigated as one component that might offer a degree of savings or capability to the system. Whether we are talking about checking for a patient’s insurance eligibility, medical homes or improving patient access to information, technology is at the heart of the solution. And it isn’t really just technology that will be responsible for this change: what we’re really talking about is information management, using technology as a modernized means of collecting, storing and moving information throughout the system. Think of this as a pyramid, with the concept of “Reform” or “Improvement” at the top. It really doesn’t matter what it is at the top, as goals can vary in scale and complexity. It could be almost any goal that will be enabled through the use of technology.

Drivers Pyramid

Leadership Enables Reform

Note again that technology is not the final goal. If you view the transition from paper to EHR systems as nothing more than implementing the technology, you’ll create more problems than you solve. At the bottom of the pyramid is leadership. It supports and enables (in fact it defines) the cultural environment at any organization. A culture that strives for improvement and that recognizes the opportunities enabled by technology can only be created by senior leadership.

Successful technology implementations then are highly dependent upon a culture that is aware of itself, its needs, and the benefits to be achieved through technology. In other words, from the leadership at the bottom of the pyramid through the culture on the next level up, the top of the pyramid (your goals) are clearly seen. Along with goals, the benefits they bring to everyone associated with the organization. Technology applied to a culture that did not participate in defining its purpose, is technology doomed to failure.

This applies to the individual organization as much as it applies to any community, regional or national project. Technology is not the end goal! (While I write with a “healthcare” point of view, this applies to any business that sees technology as central to systemic change.) Here’s a closer look at what resides in the top of the pyramid shown in the other graphic.

Information Management at Center of Reform

Information Management at Center of Reform

Other business and service sectors have already gone through the process of re-imagining their business models. Now it’s healthcare’s turn. There will be plenty of opportunities for the “technicians” to get involved; what we also need at every hospital and physician’s office is someone looking at this bigger picture so the local links can be drawn. Thoughtful leadership early in the game will pay huge dividends later on, both to the organization and to its patient population.

As always, your comments, thoughts and experiences are welcomed. Just register in the column to the right (it’s under “Login / Logout, etc.“) and you’ll be able to post! Thanks!

-Rod Piechowski

Copyright ©, 2010, Rod Piechowski, Inc., Consulting

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