Recently I had the pleasure of speaking to health care executives at the New England MGMA Regional Conference on the topic of ‘Healthcare IT Strategic Planning and Budgeting’. The majority of the attendees in the audience were practice managers in healthcare organizations of all areas and sizes, so this post is geared mainly towards managers looking to get a handle on the IT of their practice. As you know, budgeting and a healthy IT infrastructure are topics that I am passionate about. Early in my career, I was on the front lines of the beginning of a growing healthcare IT trend, and was fortunate to work with a lot of really talented healthcare IT professionals, with years of experience for healthcare organizations. This hands on experience shaped my view on the role of IT in healthcare organizations. Strategic IT planning, foundational budgeting and IT governance are all elements that simply are no longer optional in today’s complicated healthcare IT environment.  Additionally, neglect in these areas are proving costly and in some cases dangerous.  With a little planning, real commitment and some guidance you can systemize the inclusion of IT strategy into your practice.

Doctors and other healthcare professionals tend to be myopic on their view of technology and healthcare practices are almost always influx with EHR efficiency, reimbursements and the overall healthcare regulatory landscape.  With all of these moving parts in the healthcare world, IT needs to be a foundation to their business plan and often times can understandably be overlooked amid all of the other business critical functions.

From my presentation, here is a snapshot of the major pillars to consider that help make IT support successful within your healthcare organization:

  1. Strategic IT Planning – Have a business conversation with your IT leadership. Take the time to sit down and discuss if you have a Strategic Business plan documented. Your organization must know where you going, what is your vision and what your organizational goals are. Once your team has a plan, you can then convert the business goals into actionable IT initiatives. Organize quarterly checkpoints to review the status of your initiatives. It is important that your team shares leadership consensus but also has the governance to put the plan into action and stay on track.
  1. The Foundation – Get together with your physician and administrative leadership as well as your IT leadership to create a budget process. There must be a clear strategic plan alignment and physician involvement is crucial to the success of the budget plan. Your team must also follow an annual IT planning process that is started at least three months before the fiscal year. This process must include clear IT objectives and initiatives that revolve around your budget and fit into your overall business plan. It is important to note that there are capital IT expenses and operating expenses that must be included in the budget.
  1. Myths That Cost You Money – Don’t make a serious IT decision without consulting with your IT resources and doing research. There are many technology myths that could cause your practice money. Take the time to include all available IT resources and do research to learn best practices and technology options for the challenges you are facing…it has likely been done well before you.

I am proud of our experience in supporting a variety of healthcare organizations and all of their healthcare IT needs. If you feel as though the three elements above are being ignored, are going unmet or your current partner doesn’t have the HIT and/or HIPAA Compliance experience, then it’s time for a serious conversation.