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More than Ever, Provider IT Organizations Need an Architecture Practice


Few would argue that the Healthcare industry is evolving rapidly.  Traditionally focused on Clinical (i.e. EHR) and Revenue Cycle Management platforms, modern provider Healthcare IT organizations are being asked to provide more transformative capabilities – moving from support function to potential means of differentiation.  Integration – across the organization’s ecosystem and outside – is becoming a foundational requirement.  Big Data and Predictive Analytics have entered the day-to-day vocabulary of most every clinical operations leader.

The transformation to Value-Based Care is driving the need for new data capture and analytics capabilities.  CMS reimbursement-impacting measures such as STARS and HCAHPS as well as similar Patient Experience factors incorporated into private payer Value-Based program like Humana’s HIP, place new focus on improving Patient Experience.  Focus on health outcomes now incents providers to try and influence patient behavior.  Patient Engagement, whether through simple reminder programs or sophisticated health apps and personal devices (IoT) is seen a lever for improving those outcomes.

Interoperability is another source of technology pressure as CMS moves to revise its MIPS to focus on Health Information Exchange participation.

New technologies (Predictive Analytics, AI, Blockchain, etc.) and the growing availability of data (and the capability to analyze it) is in and of itself, creating pressure on IT organizations to adapt quickly.  Whether leveraging AI for clinical diagnoses, building complex Population Health models to inform risk-sharing agreements, or leveraging IoT data to paint a more comprehensive picture of patient wellness, new applications appeal to provider stakeholders seemingly every day.   The pressure on their IT organizations to deliver is immense.

And, of course, all of this transformation and innovation, must be executed in secure and compliant fashion.  HIPAA, HITECH, and ongoing regulations from CMS create a complex Information Security environment in which IT organizations must operate.

Bordering on overload, these competing drivers can be overwhelming to IT organizations who have traditionally had a narrow, supporting focus.  Now at the center of innovation for their respective organizations, Healthcare Provider IT organizations must grow their missions quickly.  Lacking internal capabilities, providers turn to technology vendors, a process which has itself become overwhelming.  At this year’s HIMSS’18 conference, more than 1300 vendors showed up to pitch their messages of turn-key solutions and innovation.  Of course, we all know that IT implementations can be complex and challenging – no matter how “easy” technologies might look when demonstrated, and usually, the complexity comes in fitting another part into an already complex IT machine.

Of course, most every enterprise experiences similar complexity.  Depending on the industry, the IT organizations tend to have varying degrees of maturity and sophistication.  Those organizations most able to deal smoothly and push forward without incurring loads of technical debt, rely heavily on their Architecture practice.

Whether a sophisticated matrix team in a large enterprise or a one-two man show, IT Architecture – specifically Enterprise Architecture – establishes a technology “blueprint” and roadmap that aligns to the organization’s strategy.  Combined with Solution Architecture and other, incorporated governance functions such as Data Governance and Information Security Architecture, the collective Architecture function sets technology policies, guidelines, and standards.  When new business needs and drivers arise, the Architecture practice collaborates with business stakeholders to design appropriate solutions that meet business objectives while ensuring that the IT ecosystem evolves in maintainable and cost-efficient fashion.  During times when complexity of technology creates cloudiness and confusion, the Architecture practice serves as the organization’s guide and pathfinder.

At MST, we are strong believers that a successful and sustainable IT organization that can be a true strategic partner to the business must have a strong architecture practice.  In industries experiencing pressure-inducing change, such as Healthcare, it is even more critical.  To help our partners meet this challenge, MST offers advisory services to stand-up and jumpstart internal Architecture practices.

Vince Liang