Healthcare Growing Pains

What’s fascinating about the state of healthcare today is that it seems that many of the back office operational systems are the equivalent to where manufacturing was in the early 1990’s. The standard financial applications have been put in place, there’s some basic reporting, but with the explosive growth in the industry, the only place everything comes together is in Excel. Three of the five organizations I’ve worked closely with over the past six years, have commented “We’re running a billion dollar plus business in Excel.”

In manufacturing, organizations moved past this point through the implementation of increasingly sophisticated ERP systems that allowed geographically dispersed divisions function as one business. These back office systems progressed through a very rapid development cycle from the early 1990’s so that the mass implementations that occurred prior to Y2K brought with them reasonably mature software. These systems continued to evolve rapidly to keep pace with global competition of the first decade of the 21st century. The growth in the business systems ran in parallel to the shop floor expansion of interconnected controllers, monitors and very deep use of automation. Accounting, human resources, inventory control and management reporting grew alongside of and kept up with the shop floor automation revolution because it was a requirement to remain competitive (and in business).

Healthcare on the other hand has moved along a different path. Budding medical groups and physician practices did implement basic back office business systems. But beyond those initial investments, the operational capital went into state of the art clinical systems to deliver improved healthcare and keep up with ever increasing payor and regulation requirements. The medical “shop floor” advanced beyond and then leapfrogged the back office business systems which atrophied as scarce resources were diverted to more and more advanced clinical systems.

Challenges in Healthcare IT

A key challenge that the healthcare industry faces today is to achieve efficiencies and cost savings by aligning their business systems with their clinical systems. Consolidation over the last 10 years has only exacerbated the situation as large hospital systems became a federation of back office applications that are ill suited to address the needs of a modern healthcare business operation, thus Excel has become the tool of choice to consolidate information quickly and in the short term, cheaply.

Manufacturing turned to products to interconnect disparate platforms until they could be brought under a single umbrella. Healthcare’s interconnectivity platform focuses on the integration of clinical systems, and not necessarily business applications. From their perspective this made sense given that clinical interconnectivity is critical for patient safety and continuity of care while business applications only save money. However in today’s world of shrinking payments, there needs to be an equal focus on both the business and the clinical if the organizations are going to survive to the next round.

Tribridge’s Healthcare Consulting team has the tools, knowledge and experience to assist in the transition to a modern back office business system. Our experience in the integration of disparate systems, the creation of an accessible reporting infrastructure or tuning up the clinical to finance lifecycle consistently delivered results. We bring experienced professionals to the table to develop tactical or strategic approaches or that extra set of hands to bring the project in. All members of the Healthcare Consulting team start with the assumption that the client’s success is what matters. We know the business of healthcare.

Learn more about IT solutions in healthcare to meet your business needs.

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