As technology takes a more central role to strategy, competitive advantage, and sustainability for health and human service organizations, it brings new issues for executive teams to grapple with (see Why Your Tech IQ Will Determine Your Success In A Value-Based World). What technology to invest in? How much to spend on technology infrastructure? Who is responsible for technology purchasing, technology implementation, and technology optimization?
The strategy questions are big ones. And the range of available technologies and tech-enabled functionality that shape and support strategy is large and growing rapidly. For a great breakdown of the tech out there, check out this month’s newsletter coverage: Building A Technology Infrastructure For Value-Based Care: Tech To Support Performance Management and Building A Technology Infrastructure For Value-Based Care: Tech To Optimize The Value Of Consumer Care). This complicates the decisions about budget and management.
So, what is best practice in technology adoption and optimization? That was the topic of the session, Planning & Budgeting For Technology: How Much Is Enough?, led by OPEN MINDS Senior Associate Joseph P. Naughton-Travers, Ed.M., and featuring Vera Sonsone, President & Chief Executive Officer, CPC Behavioral Healthcare; and Victor Topo, President & Chief Executive Officer, Center For Life Management.
Both executives explained that they had implemented many different technologies—such as electronic health records—over the years, but there were common themes from each adoption. I took away five key best practices that they have used for success.
Put your technology experts on the executive team—The person responsible for your organization’s technology needs to be part of your leadership team. They need to understand your organization’s strategy and future so they can help build the tech system that best suits your organization. There is a misconception that “the tech staff” can be tucked away in the back office and only involved in implementation at the end, after all the decisions are made. This is a big mistake that leads to bad implementations. Be open to adapt your team as market requirements change and you find that the organization needs different skill sets.
Build your strategy before you allocate your resources—Don’t spend time and money simply to figure out where you think you want to go. Decide where you want your organization to go and what can help you get there, then allocate resources accordingly. If you set a budget and then try to cram your technology needs into that framework, you will never achieve your goals; or you will achieve a diminished version of them.
Plan to give consumers technology options—Not everyone benefits from the same technology. New tech options will impact consumers differently based on their own experience and needs. Some consumers will benefit from one kind of tech (say telehealth), and another consumer may do better with tech that allows them to self-manage. Some consumers won’t benefit at all and will still need face-to-face treatment. In the end, consumers want to use technology and they are comfortable with using it in other areas of their lives. Look deeper into your own culture and see if those tech barriers you think exist aren’t actually self-imposed.
Recognize that technology planning is about change management—Business operations is at a unique time in history, with five generations in the workplace at the same time. Some people are more comfortable with tech than others, meaning you need to train staff in different positions in different ways. You may need to use different types of training with a case manager, than you would with a psychiatrist. Give people time to transition because effective change will be organic. That said, leadership sets the tempo. Change needs to be a top-down effort.
Plan for the long term—Tech can be a big investment, so organizations need to take time to think through the future and educate staff accordingly. Don’t plan for just the next year. Think about where you want your organization to be in ten years and keep that long-term strategic view in mind. Keep your board informed about your strategy and your plan so they can be part of this long-term vision.
Technology presents the opportunity for “breakthrough” market positioning—but it is also a big investment. Planning, followed by best practice implementation and performance optimization, is the key.
For more join Joseph P. Naughton-Travers on November 7 for his session, “Information Exchange & Tech Innovation: How Technology Is Changing Case Management”, at The 2017 OPEN MINDS Technology & Informatics Institute, featuring Luke Crabtree, JD, MBA, Chief Executive Officer, Project Transition and Virginia Matthews, RN, BSN, Project Manager, MAXIMUS.