Hospital IT Underinvestment: The Roadblock to Modernization

Early in my career I was fortunate to develop and market software that was used by the largest banks and Fortune 100 companies –  some of the most demanding and sophisticated IT consumers in the world.  As a vendor to these organizations, I delivered high-performance software designed to solve complex customer problems using practical, scalable solutions that leveraged new infrastructure models, like the cloud, long before it was considered a best practice.

Due to this experience, I saw healthcare as an ideal place to apply the hard fought lessons from previous industries to a market that had been historically underserved. My initial findings in talking with leading healthcare clinicians, consultants and hospital leaders was how poorly many healthcare technology vendors served their customers. Their software is developed on systems that many industries effectively retired decades ago; they are closed systems, the user interfaces are outdated and visually non intuitive, and hardware configurations are complex and expensive. Additionally, even with all of the successful commercial applications of cloud technology, most healthcare vendors are years behind in leveraging this lower cost infrastructure resource.

The consequence for the healthcare industry is that much of the technology used in hospitals today is hard to install, hard to use, cumbersome to adopt, expensive to maintain, and doesn’t leverage the ecosystem of modern IT and/or established best practices.

Healthcare needs to invest in IT and expect much more from its vendors.  At many hospitals, IT is conflated with the help desk function – run reports, keep the printers working and reset passwords every three months. But writing the off the role of IT in this way is only setting hospitals back further.  IT should be central to hospital leadership and should be a key stakeholder in modernization in partnership with its primary vendors.  Additionally, IT should play a key strategic and operational role and their vendors should make it easy.  I’m confident the entire healthcare system would benefit if customer expectations for what technology can do  was held to the same standard as in other industries.

I hear a lot of justifications from both vendors and some customers on “why healthcare is different” and how modernization needs to be slow, methodical and gradual – personally, I don’t buy it.  Meaningful Use has resulted in a workflow platform and treasure trove of data that can be leveraged to significantly improve hospital efficiency. Yet for the most part, vendors have not exposed these capabilities for customers to leverage, nor have they shown much proclivity for modernization. PHI is also a poor excuse to defer modernization. My previous financial clients had equally sensitive client information and successfully used technology as a competitive differentiator while reducing the risk of hacking, not despite the risk.

I made the shift to healthcare assuming my experience building and advancing great software would be an unqualified advantage for an industry this large and important. I’ve maintained my quality expectations, both because it is habit, as well as because it’s my belief hospitals will eventually come to demand the same of their vendors. In the meantime, Hospital IQ will continue to build innovative solutions based on modern technology that enables forward thinking customers to leverage all of the data they generate in a purpose-built, scalable, intuitive and fully-transparent system in order to bring their vision to fruition and deliver on their hospital’s mission. We will continue to educate and empower hospitals to understand the true value of the data it has at its fingertips and lead by example in showing what we believe are the best practice of an IT vendor.