There is, of course, a catch in this happy scenario. Along with technology solutions come technology problems. Although healthcare IT is hardly in its infancy, many other industries are farther along the curve of IT adoption. Executives in financial services, manufacturing, retail, and other IT-intensive industries have learned some hard lessons:
- No IT system ever works as seamlessly as promised. That smooth demo you saw applies to ideal conditions, never to you. Siloed systems that can't communicate with one another, dirty data problems, and stupid user tricks aren't just the stuff of Dilbert cartoons.
- No IT department can do all the work; users have to meet them halfway. Complicating matters is that for healthcare, the users include hospital executives and administrators, physicians and nurses, and patients and their families—parties that have different needs and points of view.
- IT systems cost a lot, but IT consultants often cost more. Yet without consultants who can get into the details of linking disparate data systems in ways that different departments and functions can use, your expensive new system will become shelfware.
In short, IT's role in healthcare will continue to rise, but so will IT's prominence in your role—no matter what your title.
Edward Prewitt is the Editorial Director of HealthLeaders Media.