While pursuing a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership for Hospital Administration, academia has given me even greater insight into the macro environment in which healthcare operates and the complex network of stakeholders. Whether external, like state/federal regulatory bodies and insurance payers, or internal, like clinical end users delivering care and those managing department initiatives, these stakeholders are interconnected. At times, each stakeholder has their influence on how care is accessed and implemented.

As a graduate student and practicing healthcare IT project manager with T2 Tech Group, I’ve been fortunate to study and experience the roadblocks and rewards involved in using technology to facilitate the efforts of these interdependent parties. To look at things holistically, I find it helpful to compare the healthcare industry to a simple machine; each gear that it comprises has an independent function, and some impact the others.

When one gear isn’t working well, becomes obstructed, or just needs a tune up, the machine does not operate as efficiently as a whole. Within my work, I’ve seen the right technology act as an oil these machines need to ensure all the multifaceted gears function fluidly and efficiently. With the oil, the machine can effectively produce what it should: quality care for patients and communities.

A holistic approach to innovation in healthcare

As health and care continue to evolve, the success of healthcare organizations will depend on their ability to keep up with rapidly changing industry demands. Non-traditional indicators of financial sustainability, such as technological innovation, quality of care and population health, will be vital to the impact healthcare organizations can make for their communities.

Technological advancements in the healthcare industry are vast. Organizations across the United States are leveraging a host of solutions, such as telemedicine, optimized EHRs, advanced ERP systems, and interactive patient technology. These technologies aim to increase the effectiveness by which patients receive holistic care and decrease the overall spend associated with uncoordinated care, unnecessary procedures and testing.

Coordinating stakeholders for patients

In a current client engagement, my team is transforming an entire health system’s IT environment. We’re putting new infrastructure in place so that it can support the applications the care team needs to improve patient outcomes. This change is in reaction to the push and pull from both internal and external stakeholders alike, and subsequently, it will positively impact both.

As an impact to internal stakeholders, we’re ensuring the hospital can better cater to the patient and family experience. For instance, the changes will help ensure a seamless experience for patients’ transitions of care (e.g., ED to cardiology to radiology). Regarding external stakeholders, the changes will help the health system meet government targets while ensuring appropriate reimbursement. Achieving buy-in and successful IT project implementation has been a coordinated effort, requiring close interactions between technologists, end users and business parties.

Deconstructing the gears as a project manager

As a project manager, I have to help organizations improve their IT in the best way possible. In this effort, it’s important to deconstruct or makes sense of the overall machine to assess which gear or combination of gears needs attention. After a holistic assessment, teams can see where they might need to put in some more effort or actual money.

“Achieving the best result is not always about buying new and expensive technology. Much of the time, enterprises aren’t getting the most out of the products they already have. It’s easy to focus on making one ugly gear shiny vs. thinking through technology’s impact to the overall organization’s interworkings. Hospitals generally can’t afford big projects, so using currently owned technology more efficiently is almost always a viable solution.”

It’s also important to realize organizations can’t replace all the gears at the same time. By tackling daunting projects in an iterative way, they become more palatable. As a project manager, I work with teams to identify the high risk gear interconnections and solve those first. Then slowly and iteratively, my team works to positively impact the whole in a financially prudent way.

Working together to improve care

To provide value in my work, I must interact within the gears of client organizations, making sure key stakeholders and organizational priorities are included in the implementation of technology solutions. Seeing how the technology has already evolved to help improve care aspects throughout the continuum, healthcare technologists have a lot of exciting developments to look forward to in the coming years.

Working together will be paramount to contribute to higher care value for patients. As a healthcare IT project manager, I look forward to working with the various mechanisms that keep the healthcare engine going. We, as policymakers, hospital executives or even project managers, have the unique opportunity to utilize technology as a launching point into the exciting healthcare developments to come