You don’t drive a Ferrari Enzo on a dirt road. Equally, you can’t take a state-of-the-art digital clinical processes like Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and run them on legacy architecture.
Cisco Solutions Architect, David Jirku, uses the sports car analogy in his reimagining healthcare and HIMSS Analytics Infrastructure Adoption Model (INFRAM). INFRAM is a multi-stage model that provides an objective assessment of a healthcare organization’s digital infrastructure and helps to prepare a roadmap for streamlined operations, secure systems, and improved clinical experiences.
“I actually show our clients a photo of a beautiful red Ferrari on a rutted, dirt farm road,” says Jirku. “It’s a very visual way of demonstrating the critical need for IT infrastructure that ensures the integrity and performance of systems like EMR and guarantees the success of digital-based initiatives.”
The problem, according to Jirku, is that as healthcare organizations mature, they are turning to new technologies such as AI, telehealth, robotics, biometrics, wearables, analytics, and advanced health apps. The benefits are potentially enormous, both for patients and healthcare practitioners, but often the new technologies don’t play nicely with legacy systems.
“These new solutions are underpinned by technology,” he says. “I have seen organizations spend many years and a lot of money to launch an EMR, only to find it useless.”
Jirku reinforces the need for the seamless integration of technology with the example of a nurse who is given a tool for instant messaging, only to discover that it repeatedly asks for a secure ID and then forces the user to scroll through multiple screens a number of times.
“That’s precious time wasted,” he says. “In one Canadian hospital, the situation was so cumbersome that staff actually revolted against the EMR system and went back to charting on paper. You don’t get three strikes in healthcare. When lives are at stake, you get one strike and then you’re out.”
INFRAM provides an objective, third-party assessment of foundational architecture technologies. It helps ensure healthcare customers’ business strategies have the right pieces in place to support their digital initiatives and their adoption strategies. It provides standardize benchmarking and identifies gaps so that both business and IT teams can see how they stack up when it comes to mobility, security, collaboration, transport, and data warehousing. Most importantly, it provides the basis of a clear business case for necessary improvements and upgrades to infrastructure – something that is easily forgotten in the rush to adopt new technologies and systems.
“As organizations shift their technology focus to improve and personalize the experience for patients and caregivers, it’s exciting to have a meaningful way to compare healthcare peers,” says Jirku. “Plenty of organizations say they’re the best, but now there’s reliable evidence to support this.”
For ITWC CIO Jim Love, an experienced consultant in the healthcare sector, addressing legacy support architectures is essential to allow for the implementation of essential new technologies. “There has been so much progress with EMR systems, but in the end, the success is dependent on ensuring that the infrastructure can support and secure these new systems,” says Love.
“Money is tight. You need to make the case for upgrades and support with objective evaluations and benchmarking data. Failing to address the infrastructure that supports the transformation of healthcare is exactly like the example of driving that fancy Ferrari on an unpaved road. It won’t be a smooth ride and you’ll never realize the potential of all that horsepower.”