There are many articles out there that focus on the death of the CIO as a strategic position in the executive management landscape. Many pundits have suggested that today’s CIO (especially in healthcare) is mired in the technical underpinnings and has lost his/her position as a true business leader. Healthcare especially in its fast-growth, heavily regulated world has caused its CIO’s to be focused on implementation and support of costly, poorly integrated systems that don’t scale well or play well with others.
So, what does the CIO of 2020 need to be thinking about today in order to improve the impression of what the CIO is these days? What do CIO’s need to do to move healthcare to a higher state of technological maturity?
We all know the big Healthcare vendors need to come together and establish a standard framework, but while we are waiting for that to begin to take shape, we as CIO’s can drive a more flexible, scalable and cost-effective technological infrastructure and prepare for that future. Today’s infrastructure for running a modern hospital or clinic is really 5 key platforms: Voice, Data, End-user compute, your application stack, and mobile platforms.
There has been a lot of talk around cloud computing and things like IAAS, and SAAS and PAAS, but how does these play in Healthcare? Many CIO’s are apprehensive and rightfully so – there is risk. But, forward-thinking CIO’s should be looking out to 2020 and thinking more about how their patients and clinicians can interact with their organization electronically. In order to do this there will have to be a massive build-up of back-end infrastructure to support those mobile-enabled apps. With that said, the CIOs of 2020 should be thinking they need to partner with hosting and managed services providers that can bring infrastructure that is highly scalable and highly flexible to the table now.
So, why not move to the cloud? Blue sky here, think about this… Healthcare IT could be run by 3-4 key leaders who are responsible to organize 20-25 managed services contracts into a truly flexible technology framework for the organization. So let’s take a look at the 5 key technology platforms and what you can do to virtualize and commoditize these platforms and ready your organization for 2020+. Oh, and by the way, all of this is available today.
The voice and data networks are vital to any business, especially healthcare. Now that voice and data have converged, our lives have gotten easier. Gone are the days when a PBX the size of a small garage or an army of network engineers is needed to run voice and data. There are new businesses that allow you to run your voice service in the cloud, and many network VAR’s have very mature managed services organizations that can design, build, and manage your network infrastructure without having a small army of engineers on your payroll. BYOD has also changed this landscape as well, but we’ll touch on that below in the mobile platforms section.
End-User Compute (PC’s, Laptops, Printers) – In 2020, traditional PC’s and laptops may be a thing of the past (or at least on their way out). Thinking about the BYOD mentality, your employees may just bring their own tablets and smartphones to work and they join the domain and off they go. But even if you still have traditional end-user computing in 2020, there are vendors today who will design, provision to your spec, deliver to your desk, and support your end-user computing in your building.
The application stack – all of the big players offer a hosted option including Epic. Cerner has been offering this service since their days of the mainframe and Epic has just recently completed a massive Tier 3 data center to offer hosted solutions. Even if you decide not to use the app vendor as your hosting partner, you can still go to Amazon, Google, or many regional players to run your apps on their infrastructure. Even if you find an app that has to be run on your own infrastructure, your hosting partner(s) can offer up an IAAS platform that is highly scalable and flexible.
Mobile platforms are here, let’s deal with them. As everybody knows, the smartphone has become so powerful and flexible that it has completely changed the technology landscape. Everybody has one and wants to use it, but is Healthcare ready to support it – I would say a resounding “NO”. Again, the application vendors have a lot to do with it as they haven’t really embraced the small screen, but again we need to prepare for the inevitability. Other industries have come to grips with the small screen revolution and we should also for our employees and our customers.
The bottom line – there is no longer a need for massive data centers and armies of technical engineers. Remote hosting, managed services and virtualization are here now. So what does this mean for the CIO of the future? We CIO’s should be positioning healthcare IT for that future now. Remember, we are behind and it’s not just the end-user community, but the vendors in the healthcare space who haven’t moved the ball. CIO’s of the future need to be solely focused on the business. Remember those 3-4 key leaders I was talking about earlier? We are managing our services contracts with our vendors and offering highly flexible and scalable technology to our ever-changing and fast growing businesses. The CIO of the future now can focus on how technology interacts with the business and position IT for the future.