3 Key IT Challenges Facing the Healthcare Industry

In Business of IT

IT leaders across all industries are tightening their belts and trying to find the perfect balance of cost, equipment, people, and processes. For the healthcare industry in particular, complications around technologies and customer expectations are compounded by strict regulations, highly sensitive data, and human error liabilities.

A few months ago we spoke with Richard Hu, Associate Director of Service Strategy and Systems Architecture at Weill Cornell, about the hurdles unique to healthcare’s IT departments. During the conversation, Hu emphasized three critical IT challenges facing the healthcare industry: efficiency, cost, and customer experience.
 

Increasing Efficiency

The complex operational structure of hospitals, medical offices, and other healthcare organizations has caused a lag in technological advancements. Organizations like Weill Cornell are finally making the transition from paper processes to more secure technologies — promising a positive long-term impact, but creating new complications for IT.

Analytics are becoming essential to help improve operational efficiency while maintaining distributed people, processes, and systems. For example, Weill Cornell used analytics to identify bottlenecks and investigate discrepancies in their service desk performance. With the results, Hu’s team was able to take corrective actions toward streamlining the inefficient processes.
 

Optimizing IT Costs

As new technologies expand the role and cost of healthcare-based IT departments, leaders must decide which applications are most essential to streamline their operations. Maintaining the data storage, hardware, applications, IT infrastructure, personnel, and service management systems necessary to support technical demands is no small feat — and it’s not cheap, either.

At the same time, IT costs have become intertwined with efficiency: the more productive your teams, processes, and systems, the more visibility IT has to optimize their budget. Just as analytics can be a valuable tool for increasing efficiency, they can also help IT leaders pinpoint opportunities to drive costs down. At Weill Cornell, Hu is concentrated on selecting the right tools to optimize his department’s costs and workflows.
 

Driving Customer Experience

User expectations are as high as they’ve ever been, making it increasingly difficult to keep customers and users satisfied. As Hu pointed out, users simply don’t have the patience to deal with issues that are not resolved in the first call. Lengthy resolution times will lead businesspeople to look for a workaround with a shorter time to resolution.

Hu’s team turned to analytics to shrink a prolonged equipment provisioning process in an effort to positively impact their user experience. His team identified which components were stalling the cycle and used the results to better streamline the workflow, cutting the process from two weeks to two to three days.
 

In Conclusion

IT departments like Hu’s are moving toward an operating model of regularly setting goals and measuring performance to improve efficiency, lower costs, and enhance customer experience. Addressing the challenges outlined above will allow IT to continue providing exceptional support for their organizations.

[Image courtesy of Pexels.]
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