The Technology Lifecycle and Knowing When to Partner

The technology rollout lifecycle is getting faster and faster.  In the past, many of the healthcare IT purchases we made would cost tens of millions of dollars, take years, and be used for decades.  Later we started replacing desktop computers on an average of every four to five years.  Now we’re replacing mobile devices on average every two years.  Plus, with all the government deadlines we need them implemented in a timely manner.  Understanding when and how to replace the various technologies we deploy is an incredibly important task for every hospital organization.

Many hospital organizations are great at managing their technology lifecycle.  They have built long term teams with incredible organization knowledge which lets that team create an effective tech deployment plan.  In other cases, organizations find themselves trying to keep their head above water without a solid plan.  The key question for hospitals is whether tech deployment is a core competency of your organization or not.  If it’s not, then partnering with an outside organization for your tech deployment can be of great benefit.

Along with knowing your core skills, you should also consider if your tech project is going to require a long term team or if the deployment only requires a short focused sprint.  Do you really want your Biomed or IT staff spending time putting together and deploying mobile workstations during an EHR implementation while the day to day operations work gets transgressed?  Working with a trusted partner your staff is freed to handle the regular operations work, while your organization gets a fully integrated product delivered from experts in the technology.

Working with a trusted partner can also translate to increased support services including proactive system management, preventative maintenance, speed, and responsiveness.  Plus, there are serious benefits to working with a solutions provider that handles both the product and the service.  This avoids any finger pointing with one phone number and one contact for any issues that may arise.

Another time to consider looking for help outside of your internal IT organization is when a hospital system has facilities in distant locations.  Diverse geographies are becoming more and more common as hospitals continue to merge with other hospitals.  While the hospital mergers can provide scale to your tech deployment, it can also provide a complex set of geographies.  Purchasing a fully integrated solution means that your staff spends less time traveling for implementations and more time ensuring your systems are running smoothly.

Finally, whenever you’re making a decision to outsource your tech deployment or keep it in house, you will want to make sure you’re taking into account the true costs of internal resources versus outside services.  The following items must be considered when calculating the true wage of an internal resource: wage, benefit cost, federal income taxes, state or provincial income taxes, and local or city income taxes.  Plus, don’t forget to consider the cost associated with recruiting a high quality tech deployment specialist.  Remember that the cost of recruitment is both time and money.  With the current healthcare IT worker crunch, the cost and time to recruit someone has gotten even more expensive.

When considering the costs of working with outside vendors, don’t forget to include the internal costs to manage the project.  Depending on the project and oversight required this can be an important cost.  While we all would love to have an outside project just run itself, it almost always requires some internal project management to assure a successful project.  Don’t forget to weigh this into your cost evaluation.

Tech has always played a major part in healthcare, but it is quickly becoming a more and more ubiquitous part of healthcare.  Knowing when to manage the technology lifecycle and tech deployment in house versus working with an outside vendor is going to be essential to running a successful hospital IT organization.

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