By Paige Goodhew, Redox
Health IT is moving into an era that is focused on small-scale niche technologies designed to meet a clearly delineated patient or clinical care need. They provide innovative, user-friendly solutions because they have the freedom of focusing on a very specific use case instead of having to create something that works for everyone. As healthcare moves from major structural technology implementations, like server networking and EHRs, that cost millions and take months or years to complete to more specialized projects, there needs to be a change in how the industry thinks about technology implementations. In part one, we talked about three strategies technology startups use to execute with a small team: fail fast, iterate often; know when to greenlight a project; define your minimum viable product. Here are two more strategies for innovation teams.
Remove Your Barriers To Scale
Any business will have a moment when they will need to rework and change processes that become old or too difficult to maintain as the company grows. However, if you know what your team will need to do as your volume increases, it can be easy to identify these stress points before they become an issue.
The two common challenges we see innovation teams needing to address are their vendor selection process and systems integration. This excerpt from our whitepaper on The Bottleneck Problem explains why these two issues are important to address for streamlined and lasting innovation:
“How is a healthcare administrator supposed to effectively vet and select a solution when there are so many alternatives promising similar features and a better experience? She doesn’t have the luxury of simply downloading and experimenting with the few surgical scheduling solutions the way a consumer can simultaneously test half a dozen calendar applications on their phone and select the one that works best for them.
For a health system selecting a new solution, quickly switching or rebounding from an unexpectedly bad choice isn’t an option—the non-trivial purchasing decision requires extensive due diligence, multiple layers of approvals, and a lengthy contracting process, after which the chosen solution will be rolled out and used by a significant portion of providers and patients at a system level.
When health systems do select a new tool—probably at the behest of the head of oncology who can’t go another day without it—they must figure out how it will interact with the other systems in use, chief among them the EHR. Within this same problem is another even more complex issue: how to keep patient data consistent across all systems.
This is challenging because very rarely in healthcare do you see a full removal and replacement of a software solution; more often, a new tool is brought into the fold alongside existing systems. When this happens, these solutions must integrate seamlessly to ensure not only efficiency but patient safety as well—after all, even basic information like blood type and medication prescriptions can prove deadly when not recorded correctly across systems.”
Automation, Automation, Automation
Most startups run pretty lean and have a very clear point when their funding may end if they can’t meet goals needed to show growth. It’s pretty common to use the same 10-20 people to go from supporting one customer to your first 50. In order to do that, automation is the name of the game.
In a world saturated with technology options and users that want more choices, IT teams are faced with maintaining the systems in use while also being asked to participate in more implementations of new digital technology. The nature of being responsible for technology used to provide medical care for patients means having a laser focus on keeping those systems running. Maintaining performance is the most critical thing an IT department can do.
Innovation teams, on the other hand, are focused on optimizing workflows, filling care gaps, and identifying the best way to meet organizational objectives around key business needs, such as patient acquisition or care metrics. For healthcare organizations looking to increase innovation, it’s worth the time investment to identify how teams tasked with innovation can be as independent as possible through tools and processes. Your innovation team shouldn’t be following the same vendor purchase path as large-scale products and technology.
Part of being tasked with identifying innovative solutions should be having the depth of knowledge for accurate technical vetting. If your IT team is still playing a large role in this process, the first place to look for automation opportunities are any steps that require the IT team to get involved. Through training, tools and processes, the innovation team can start to take greater ownership and minimize the involvement of the IT team for pilots and small-scale projects.
About The Author
Paige is a self-professed healthcare nerd in an IT world. She began using EMRs as an employee at Elkhart General Hospital in 2002 and found the healthcare industry so fascinating that she completed her BA in Health Administration at Indiana University. Paige was introduced to the world of EMRs during her time at Seattle Children's where she was a subject matter expert and superuser for their Epic implementation. Upon moving back to the Midwest, Paige took a job at Epic where she helped implement software and train physicians for over 10 different health systems around the United States.
Since starting at Redox in 2016, Paige completed over 50 integration projects for a variety of software vendors and healthcare organizations. She currently focuses on product marketing and program management with a focus on making interoperability easy to understand. Her experience as a user, implementer, and integrator of EMRs brings a unique and balanced perspective to the challenges faced along the way to smooth and secure data exchange.