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Slalom Client Service Partner and Healthcare Lead Sarah Korf and Advocate Health Care VP of IT Field Support Rance Clouser

Advocate Health Care and Slalom at HIMSS 2016

Stop the SMAC down and master your enterprise IT demand.

Sarah Korf | February 12, 2016

*Note: This post was updated on March 3, 2016 following our presentation at HIMSS 2016.

Technology is ubiquitous in today’s healthcare environment. Adapting to near-constant industry and technical changes can be complicated, especially for large hospital systems.

IT organizations are tasked with managing competing priorities and responding to regulatory changes and merger integrations—while also looking to gain value from the latest social, mobile, analytics, and cloud (SMAC) technologies.

With the right approach, the same challenges that can leave health IT organizations feeling like they’re in a “SMAC down” battle of conflicting demands can be opportunities for IT to be a strategic partner and drive better business and clinical outcomes.

Sharing lessons learned at HIMSS 2015 and 2016

At the 2015 and 2016 Health and Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Annual Healthcare Conference and Exhibition, I had the honor of presenting with Advocate Health Care's Vice President of Field Services Rance Clouser. We shared lessons learned from our work together, including how to:

  • Better align your IT solution to business value. IT is an enabler of business and clinical value, as well as business and revenue growth. By forging strong executive partnerships, Advocate and Slalom aligned IT resources to best support the organization’s strategic direction.

  • Increase visibility and control of IT initiatives and spend. We found that customers interfacing directly with product/service vendors without IT input often resulted in inefficient spend, which we were able to address with better visibility and demand management.

  • Transition to operating like a hospital system, not a system of hospitals. As a result of various mergers and acquisitions, Advocate’s sites of care and service lines operated relatively autonomously, which led to redundant initiatives and expenses, as well as additional complexity in the technology landscape. Operating as one system provides opportunities for greater value realization, from both a business and clinical perspective. While the technology needs may vary for independent sites, it’s important to understand how those technologies impact the hospital system at large.

  • Find the right executive sponsors. Real organizational change must start at the very top. Connect the anticipated outcomes of the initiative to pain points felt by executives and communicate the connection in dollars whenever possible.

  • Don’t underestimate time and resources needed to affect real change. Heads may nod during your stakeholder briefings, but that doesn’t always mean that information was retained. Communicate early and often, and follow up all briefings with a summary of key points. Create a network of change agents to provide an outlet for questions and knowledge sharing.

  • Don’t let “perfect” be the enemy of “good enough.” Work within your boundaries to the degree possible. At Advocate, securing a new FTE was a difficult task given the environment, so we had to figure out how to distill a PMO into its fundamental components to achieve quick wins and build a long-term plan for growth.

  • Position IT as a proactive, strategic partner. Focus communications between business and IT on shared organizational objectives. Too often IT is viewed as a barrier or roadblock to success, which is quite the opposite of its role.

We hope that sharing our experience will empower healthcare IT professionals to end the SMAC down and lead the way to better business and clinical outcomes.

Learn more about our work with Advocate

Sarah Korf

Sarah Korf is a Client Service Partner and Healthcare Lead at Slalom. She works with our top payer, provider, and association clients at Slalom Chicago. Follow her on Twitter: @therealSKD.


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