Ahead of our upcoming webinar, The Journey Toward Digital Transformation, HCI recently sat down with digital transformation executive, visionary leader and CIO of Children’s Mercy Hospital, David Chou. The conversation hit on several topics and trends surrounding digital transformation in healthcare. The following is a portion of the conversation where Chou talks about establishing the groundwork that leads to digital transformation, his current initiatives as a hospital CIO and where he sees healthcare IT in 2020.
Is there a transformation that you’ve spear-headed in your career that you’re most proud of?
I will use a current example from my time here at Children’s Mercy Hospital. Right now, we’re working toward digital transformation. To achieve this, we are creating a cultural transformation first.
When I walked into the organization, we had a lot of silos within a department. We had never made an enterprise roadmap. We didn’t have a security roadmap or an IT security program. We didn’t even have a PMO structure or framework to manage enterprise projects. We are transforming culturally. People are now talking to each other and working collaboratively, which is one of the key strategies for achieving digital transformation. We now have a shared vision based on the strategy for the IT department and the business units put together, and a common governance process through the development of our project management office. Most importantly, we are building programs, like the IT security program that is now in place, versus checking the box.
What kind of buy-in is needed from the organization to ensure that technology projects are moving forward? Are there members of the C-suite that you collaborate with, or that you need to get on-board to move initiatives forward?
Everyone must be on-board. When you look these ‘technology initiatives’ or ‘projects’, a very basic philosophy to have is that there is no such thing as a technology project. Rather every technology project should be considered a business project. For example, let’s go back to one of the roadblocks to digital transformation: the case of having legacy infrastructure. Whether it’s an infrastructure upgrade or a brand-new network, while these may be classified as a technology project, make sure to show some sort business outcome that you are trying to achieve. If you think about everything that you are driving toward, it must have a business outcome. This needs to happen for you to be successful and to get buy-in from the C-suite for project approval. If you just label it as purely an infrastructure upgrade, that kind of project usually doesn’t go well.
As a hospital CIO, what are your top three initiatives or areas of focus right now?
The first initiative right now is that we’re going through a whole exercise of becoming a data organization. There’s lots of data siloes and we have more data than ever, particularly from the last two years. We’re trying to put together an enterprise roadmap so that we’re all on the same page and source of truth.
Second would be IT security, because it still rolls up to me. IT security is probably one or two on my list in terms of making sure we have the appropriate policies and procedures in place. We must continually make sure people are educated and have the right tools in place from a security perspective.
Finally, and this is more of a goal versus an actual initiative, is making our technology investment a competitive advantage for our organization. This is always a theme for me when I am looking at our technology portfolio. Does this make us competitive? Or, what do we need to do to make a shift? How do we make sure this investment is helping the company stand out among our competitors?
Looking ahead to 2020, where do you see healthcare IT? What will be the top priorities?
First, I’m still very surprised, based on a survey that I saw through Time, that there are still a lot of organizations going through EMR implementation. By the time 2020 comes, there will be a big shift toward thinking about life after the EMR. What are you going to do? What is your plan? EMR is not the end all, be all. What is that life after EMR going to look like?
Second, we are starting to think about technology such as AR, VR and block chain. Block chain is going to be extremely beneficial, especially for healthcare.
Finally, and this is something I’ve been talking a lot about recently, is the idea of thinking of yourself as a software company. Most organizations have invested hundreds of millions, some even billions into their technology portfolio. When you think about that sort of investment, it’s probably one of the biggest investments you have ever made as a healthcare company. But how are you operating it? Are you operating with the mindset of a software vendor or a product vendor? Probably not. Understanding how to shift that culture into operating like software/product vendor would be something for organizations to think about in 2020.
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