It Takes a Village to Make Healthcare IT Successful
- October 09, 2018
What would Steve Wozniak’s pioneering computer work be without Steve Job’s vision for personal computing? Unknown, or at least slower to get to market. Their partnership is one of the most storied in the tech world and illustrates the idea that the best partnerships are born out of alliances between individuals who have very different abilities but share a vision.
Wozniak had the technical expertise to create personal computers and Jobs had the marketing and design genius to craft Wozniak’s work into computers that people really, really, really want. They had completely different skill sets, but they shared a vision and put computing power into the hands of millions.
But Apple’s founders are just one example of how collaboration empowers people to solve complex tasks.
Virtually every leap forward in technology is the result of collaboration. The idea of a scientist or engineer, working alone, making a great breakthrough is seldom true. That’s because great leaps forward in any field often require widely divergent skill sets.
Healthcare IT is an area where collaboration is critical. Think about what it takes to successfully implement an electronic medical records system. The IT team can’t begin to do this on their own. They know how to set up the servers and network and install the software, but they need the clinical and business staff to guide them in making the system work well within the workflows and processes of users. Without input from clinical and business people, the IT people are likely to find themselves with a system no one wants to use.
With healthcare IT vendors, partnerships are also important. The big IT vendors all strive to provide “end-to-end” services for our clients. But if we want to provide the very best technology and processes within that “end-to-end” promise, we need to create alliances with other vendors who have specialized expertise that we don’t own.
Telehealth offers a good example of this. My company, NTT DATA, wants to help our healthcare clients adopt telehealth so they can provide better, more comprehensive and more accessible care. But we’re not telehealth gurus. While we have much of the skills needed to make them operational in various healthcare environments, we focus our attention on systems integration and process redesign rather than on creating the very best telehealth platform.
InTouch Health, on the other hand, is expert at providing telehealth. NTT DATA’s decades of experience with healthcare IT will help them seamlessly integrate with existing health system EHRs. This will allow physicians using the InTouch Health platform to see a patient’s medical record to better understand the patient’s current condition. They will also be able to document the virtual health visit in the patient’s record, making that data available to the patient’s other physicians. This will help physicians, clinicians, health plans and pharmacies provide better care for each patient.
That’s why we created a partnership with them. When a client wants to adopt telehealth, we work together to provide a system that provides excellence in telehealth and integrates data seamlessly with the client’s system.
Neither of our companies could provide the same level of service on our own. And it’s much better for our clients if we work together.
This is not a new concept, and my own company works with a number of strategic partners to provide comprehensive services. And so, do our competitors. As healthcare IT becomes more complex, these partnerships will be critical to success in analytics, AI, telehealth, imaging analytics, patient engagement, population health and a host of other tasks.
Good partnership between vendors and clients is also key to success. As IT vendors, we want to work with our clients to solve the big problems. And we’ve found that our most creative work happens in a climate of collaboration.
Competition between IT vendors can be useful, as we each try to outdo the other to provide better, faster, more comprehensive service and technology. But even more important in making great leaps forward will be the collaboration between vendors and the clients we mutually serve.