The lure of new healthcare technology can be hard to resist. It’s shiny and state of the art and promises to solve all your problems.
It whispers, buy me and your troubles will disappear.
Unfortunately, it often doesn’t work that way. We see clients all the time struggling with new tools and technology. Either they aren’t getting the results they had hoped for, or the tech is proving difficult to integrate with their existing systems.
This is almost always the result of insufficient planning and research on the part of the buyers. While this is regrettable (and expensive), it’s also understandable and avoidable. Implementing the best possible healthcare technology system is extraordinarily complicated, considering any new system must:
- Support myriad complex and interrelated operations
- Be usable by thousands of employees and/or patients with varying levels of tech skills
- Conform to industry regulations
- Be updated regularly to meet new demands and upgrades
- Have the flexibility to integrate new tools and processes
- Accommodate growth and mergers with other systems
A job as enormous and complicated as replacing one EMR vendor with another can take a healthcare system several years to complete and require the participation of scores of employees throughout the organization. That’s taxing on even a large hospital system; while a smaller one might lack the resources to adequately research and plan for new technology.
Another problem is the decentralized nature of IT planning and purchasing in some healthcare systems. New technology can be adopted without vetting by the IT department or without sufficient consideration as to how it will affect other operations. This creates numerous problems for the system, as well as the IT department, which is ultimately responsible for resolving subsequent issues of integration, performance and maintenance.
In some cases, hospital leaders have “pet” tools or technology that they are resistant to replacing, a problem which can require considerable diplomacy to resolve.
Given all of this, it’s not surprising that healthcare systems sometimes skip the necessary groundwork and opt for technology that promises quick fixes or that solves only one problem. This is a mistake because it doesn’t take workflow requirements into account. The hospital system needs the right technology to support and enhance its workflow, not to solve a specific problem in a vacuum.
Workflow is everything when choosing new technology. And too often, the workflow is altered to accommodate the technology, which only hurts performance. New tools must support the workflow the system wants to achieve.
In the second post of this two-part blog, I’ll discuss the best way to approach choosing new tech and how to make its adoption as easy as possible.