Buying another technology company, like an EMR company, is not the ideal method for a technology organization to tap into the healthcare market. There was a lot of buzz recently when Jim Cramer made a comment on his show Mad Money recommending Apple buy the electronic medical record vendor, Epic Systems. While that is one approach to gain the market share, it will not transform the industry.
Instead, Apple or another major technology company must buy a hospital or a small health system to transform operations and take advantage of the latest technology solutions. Buying another healthcare technology company, like Epic Systems, will not have the same impact if the operating model and processes do not change. Here are the benefits of having a technology company operate a hospital.
- Every hospital is a digital technology company now. One of the highest operating department expenditures in a hospital operation is IT. A technology company mentality in a hospital will maximize the use of every toolset to drive organizational efficiency. This approach will change the culture by viewing the technology portfolio as a competitive advantage. Technology vendors have all made investments toward agile while hospital systems have invested heavily on the LEAN process. Incorporating agile will complement an organization's LEAN transformation journey to drive the efficiency goal.
- Opportunity to fast track technology debt. The lack of cutting-edge technology is a problem in every hospital. Historically, technology is viewed as an expense. This mentality prevents the organization from keeping up with the technology trends that result in technology debt. A typical scenario in an organization to save on cost is extending the technology solution beyond the warranty support period. This practice makes it difficult to maintain the latest solution. Having a technology company as the hospital operator will ensure that the organization is technically prepared for the future.
- Use technology to eliminate waste. Every hospital organization is going through an exercise to decrease their expenses and look for opportunities to improve efficiencies. This is a prime target for using technology as a lever to create automation and promote the usage of robotics to create greater efficiencies. The goal is to allow the workforce to practice at the top of their skillset while shifting the manual work efforts to an automated process.
- Design thinking for the patients. Hospitals need to do a better job of accommodating the patient's demand as a consumer. The patients expect the same experience as the retail consumer with a personalized experience. This is the prime opportunity for a technology company to incorporate personalized design thinking principles to improve patient engagement.
- Address the technical talent gap. Healthcare industries have a talent gap specifically around digital solutions. The future IT workforce must be proficient in cloud, data analytics, mobile first, and social technology. The benefit of having a hospital operated by a technology company will eliminate the talent gap that exists today.
I have highlighted the five benefits of a technology company acquiring a hospital. We need a takeover like this in the market to improve the technology companies' understanding and appreciation for the hospital's operations. Without a massive change in the business operation, we will continue to see healthcare struggle and play catch up. I am a firm believer that for a major transformation to occur, there has to be a willingness to change the entire operating model. In this case, the influence of a major technology company will be a game changer.