A Happy New Year for Healthcare IT?

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A Happy New Year for Healthcare IT?

When January rolls around you most likely think of new beginnings, resolutions, a sense of renewal, and so on. For IT organizations in the Healthcare industry, I wonder how many share these feelings? Shrinking budgets, increased customer demands, growing governmental regulations, just to name a few have many CIO’s wondering where their “new beginnings” will start as they struggle to push forward their efforts to meet the needs of their enterprise.

The Problem

Most hospital entities today are re-evaluating their future spend projections based upon the changes in government reimbursements and the new “pay for performance” measures that are being instituted. Even the most profitable institutions are looking at flat or negative revenue growth estimates due to these changes. Now, more than ever before, it is imperative that IT departments have the ability to provide financial transparency to the organization and the ability to properly demonstrate their value to the company. Management 101 states, “If you do not measure it, you cannot manage it.”

As a former Healthcare IT director, gathering all of this information would take me a couple of weeks of dedicated work; pouring it all into spreadsheets, slicing and dicing the data, and then working with the Finance department to validate those outcomes. This equates to a very onerous process fraught with the chance of human error. Then once all of this work is complete, it would start all over again for the next month. Wouldn’t life be better if there was some type of automated system that could ingest all of this data from all of the various sources and produce the reports and executive dashboards that the organization needs?

Having the ability to produce a “Bill of IT” to better understand the overall costs of the respective areas (Infrastructure, Applications, Service Desk, etc.) I believe, are imperative for today’s healthcare IT departments. For as long as I can remember, most of these “cost numbers” were very much akin to educated guesses versus prescriptive, repeatable figures driven from the company’s own general ledger.

I recently led a focus group session around “Financial Transparency in Healthcare IT” with over 20 CIO’s from various institutions. The general feelings from the vocal members of the group were a little surprising to me, and to my associates in the room. We heard statements like “We don’t see the value in tracking costs to this level of detail (Cost per VM, Cost per Mailbox, etc)” and “This is something more along the lines that the CFO would utilize, not the CIO.”

How can a Service Line Executive (CIO) not want to understand their unit costs and be able to show this to their peers and leadership in a simple, repeatable format? And not just once a month, but at anytime via an easy to understand executive dashboard?

How do we address this problem?

Enter vmware’s vRealize Business solution. vRealize Business (formerly ITBM) is a tool set from vmware that brings together all of the disparate data points in an organization automatically and will display the fully loaded cost of any point in your IT environment. The cost of a VM, cost of a mailbox, cost of your PACS system or your EHR. Anything and everything! Utilizing an organizations data sources, (General Ledger, ERP, CMDB, etc.) these reports and cost models can not only be generated for a “where are we today” view, but that same data can be utilized for forecasting, budgeting, or helping determine IT costs for mergers and acquisitions.

vRealize Business is a solution for the modern Healthcare IT department. With this solution, IT will finally be able to answer the questions with a high degree of accuracy like, “Why is IT so expensive?” or “If we add 200 physicians next year, what is the incremental costs?” and so on. I know that most of my former peers have had to face those questions, and for the most part have provided the best number that they could muster from manually pulling all of this information together. With vRealize Business, this is now just a couple of mouse clicks to see this data within minutes, not days. This solution truly does provide CIO’s with the ability not only to measure the financial health of their department, but also to manage financial performance in a much simpler and repeatable process.