The National Alliance for Health Information Technology (www.nahit.org), an organization jointly sponsored by the American Hospital Association and CHIME, held a board meeting earlier this week. The organization discussed its strategy of working with providers and others to develop and disseminate “real practices.”
Real practices refers to practices that healthcare organizations have developed to help ensure that their system implementations are efficient, effective, and provide the value anticipated by the organization when they approved the project. These practices could surround applications such as CPOE, revenue cycle, and business intelligence. These practices could address project management, clinician engagement, vendor partnerships, and CIO-Board relationships.
For several reasons, the stakes have been raised for healthcare IT investments.
Increasing reimbursement and quality improvement pressures have put commensurate increasing pressure on successful electronic health record implementations. As their strategic importance and operational criticality increases, implementations that run too long, cost too much, or don’t deliver significant organizational gain will be less tolerated.
In addition, the credit and stock market challenges mean that there will be fewer IT investments. If the organization is going to fund, for example, one investment and not four others, that one investment had better deliver the goods.
The national healthcare IT agenda forms a parallel thread to the above.
The national agenda has been very focused on adoption. The low adoption rates of CPOE and outpatient electronic medical records have led to this agenda. But increasingly, it is understood that this focus is too narrow. Adoption isn’t the point. Effective use, improved care, and reduced costs of care are the point.
Hence the national agenda is evolving to augment adoption directed initiatives, e.g., financial incentives to implement an EHR, with initiatives directed to helping providers improve care using the technology.
These two threads converge to a materially heightened emphasis on execution.
Whether or not an organization is successful in implementing an application and realizing value is dependent on the vendor and implementation partner chosen. However, success is much more dependent on the organization’s skill in managing the implementation and realization of gain.
This skill can be greatly enhanced if a healthcare organization understands the “real practices” that other organizations have successfully used.
Sharing best practices is not a new idea. Association conferences are designed to share lessons learned. The value of consultants is often the experiences they bring from other organizations.
And while it is not a new idea, it is an idea that is becoming significantly more important. We might have gotten by with sub-optimal implementations in the past. We won’t be able to get by with them in the years ahead.
John Glaser is vice president and CIO at Partners HealthCare System. He describes himself as an "irregular regular contributor" to HIStalk.