New Year, New Initiatives to Bridge the Business-IT Divide

Over the last few years, we have explored six key ways that our clients are using EMPIs to achieve their most pressing initiatives. Working from a survey of 27 clients we conducted, we explored how IMT Master:ID EMPI helps clients throughout the US and Canada with everything from consumer engagement and revenue cycle management to research and interoperability.

One client said it best: “Our EMPI is the watchdog for our entire enterprise — it allows us to democratize our data.”

But many clients spoke of structural challenges — budgets, governance, silos, or a simple lack of awareness —  that can prevent organizations from truly using that valuable data.

Traditionally, IT “owned” everything to do with data and the surrounding technology. That task has grown over time — a typical 20-person IT staff in a mid-sized hospital may now manage 150 different technologies — even as cost pressures have cut staff and other resources.

While those from the Business side know that technology can drive efficiencies that cut costs, they often don’t realize that they have already invested in the tools — such as an EMPI — that can do what they need.

More than one survey respondent in an IT role recounted learning that someone elsewhere in the organization had invested in a solution that essentially duplicated the EMPI’s existing capabilities. One respondent said, “Organizations should explore using their MDM [master data management] data, as opposed to creating more silos of data.”

So as we look to the future, how can Business and IT align their strategic and business priorities? How can they leverage the best of each other’s capabilities and expertise? And how can they pool their resources and talents to achieve their future goals?

Here are a few ways that healthcare organizations can overcome the Business-IT divide:

Communicate the costs of NOT having an adequately supported data management program

Many clients mentioned that they are under constant pressure to reduce the costs of data stewardship, with some cutting their teams to the bone. But some have managed to limit these cuts by calculating the costs of NOT having stewardship.

For example, duplicate patient records cost hospitals an average of $1,950 per inpatient, according to a Black Book study, and 33% of all denied claims stemmed from inaccurate patient identification. These denied claims cost the average hospital $1.5 million in 2017. An adequately funded IT department that reduces these duplicates will pay for itself. 

Create roles designed to bridge the gap

Newer executive roles like Chief Data Officer, Chief Compliance Officer, and Chief Consumer Officer are often well situated to straddle the two worlds, as is the more US-centric Chief Marketing Officer. The people attracted to these roles often have rich, diverse experience in both camps, helping them understand the challenges and realities posed by each.

Impose a “tax” on data users

One way to make Business users understand the true costs of maintaining data is to impose a “tax” on them. In this scenario, departments that want to use the data for their own initiatives — such as marketing or research — are expected to contribute part of their budgets towards technology and stewardship costs. The departments readily do so, for they know that the data only remains valuable as long as it is well maintained. And when everyone has some skin in the game, they’re more likely to help champion the technology.

Build awareness about what you’re doing (and how you can do more together)

Often, the Business sets out to solve a problem that’s already being solved elsewhere in the organization. In one case, a Marketing group began shopping for expensive new tools to improve its customer retention strategy. When one of our survey respondents pointed out that the EMPI could provide a single, trusted view of all the current consumers (complete with the applicable consents), “The Marketing Team was very, very excited to know that we have the EMPI that could potentially plug into Salesforce.” After all, it meant that the data would be consistent, accurate, and up-to-date — and they didn’t need to invest in a new tool. 

But there’s often simply a lack of awareness that these tools exist within an organization. Teams should consider periodically updating each other on what tools they’re using, what they do, and how else they might be leveraged.

Articulate your shared goals — and check in on them

Teams often get so focused on their own goals that they overlook how they fit into the bigger picture. But teams are often actually working on the same thing: how they can use high-quality data to improve customer engagement, interoperability, compliance, revenue cycle management, analytics, and research/planning.

For example, several of our respondents mentioned initiatives to explore moving data to the cloud. While healthcare organizations must be mindful of HIPAA, PHIA, and other compliance issues, Cloud migration can be a big win for everyone. IT staff can be freed up to focus on more pressing priorities while letting a trusted partner manage the security and risk. Meanwhile, the Business side can enjoy cost savings by paying for only what they need, while maintaining the ability to scale with demand. (See the advantages of moving your MDM or EMPI to the Cloud.)

But it’s up to everyone to look beyond the org chart and ask, “How are we achieving this? How might my counterpart be facing a similar challenge? And how can we work together to achieve them?”

Bring in a third party

We’ve seen how challenging internal politics can be. One team may be reluctant to let go of a project that was a crown jewel ten years ago. Sometimes the vast institutional knowledge about why something was or wasn’t done can be downright paralyzing and stop you from exploring new paths. And in some cases, you just need someone who can cut through the red tape.

That’s where a third party can be so valuable. By working with someone who has navigated hundreds of other implementations, you can benefit from their expertise while they focus on getting the job done.

When you work with IMT, you get access to the knowledge we have accumulated across more than 200 deployments. We can bring a breath of fresh air to your work, make sure the right people are at the table, and help you think through your data usage and data governance in new ways.

The new year poses a fresh start in so many ways. We’re here to help you start — and finish — the year strong. Get in touch to discuss your initiatives.