Raising the Bar: HIMSS Analytics INFRAM

Setting The Bar High


The INFRAM is Establishing an Infrastructure Gold Standard

In a little less than a year, the world’s greatest athletes will converge on Tokyo for the Games of the 32nd Olympiad. The record books will no doubt be rewritten as the bar of excellence is raised higher than we could have imagined just a few years ago.

Think about that the next time you walk amid the racks in your datacenter. Hardware and software advances push the performance bar to new heights almost on a monthly basis. But who’s there to measure and set the gold standards for healthcare technology infrastructure?

Enter the INFRAM.

HIMSS Analytics® developed the INFRAM (infrastructure adoption model) as a follow-up to its industry-leading EMRAM validation process (EMRAM creates standards for EMR adoption). With the INFRAM, health systems get a measure of infrastructure stability and manageability in the areas of mobility, security, collaboration, transport, and data center.

The INFRAM is fast becoming the HIT gold standard. As shown by a recently released report of survey results. HIMSS Analytics just released a survey of initial INFRAM participating health systems and the results provide the first true measure of industry-wide infrastructure capability.

Launched in October 2018, many health systems around the globe have taken the INFRAM survey and many of those have relied on VertitechIT consultants to take them through the process. Executive Vice President Mike Machulsky helped to shape the INFRAM survey and sits on the HIMSS Analytics INFRAM Work Group that serves to drive the future direction of the model.

Are the scores higher or lower than you would have expected and are they higher or lower than the industry expected?

Machulsky: “They’re pretty much along the lines of what we thought we would see. It’s almost a classic bell curve with many scoring in mid-range, with just a few higher and a few lower (In mid-July, HIMSS Analytics revealed the first hospital to be validated against the Stage 6 standards is King Abdulaziz Medical City in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia). Those that have scored between 2 and 3 in a particular domain have used that result to justify an immediate upgrade to their systems. Those scoring 4+ have taken the score as a validation of their current initiatives.”

Collaboration seems to be a domain area of the assessment that health systems seem to continuously score lower on average. Why?

Machulsky: “There may not be a singular reason but I think it’s safe to say that for most health systems, traditional phone platforms have been in place for a decade or more. As long as the base voice capabilities are performing adequately, there is no strong impetus to replace them. But once they take the INFRAM survey, they begin to see the role that a truly integrated voice and communications platform can have on workflow which correlates to better patient and clinician experience. We had one customer that scored relatively low on the collaboration domain and that immediately led to budgetary approval to move forward on the modernization of their voice and unified communications platform.”

Is the INFRAM being viewed as the new industry standard?

Machulsky: “HIMSS Analytics has so many other adoption models in the market that the INFRAM is quickly being viewed in that light. This is something that is relevant and provides the benchmarking data and credibility of an international standard.

There are a few clients that we’ve talked with so far that aren’t ready to go that far… the baseline data sample needs to be a little larger with trackable outcomes that can be pointed to before they can accurately measure where they stand amidst their peers. Once positive outcomes begin to be realized and shared, organizations will view the INFRAM as the gold standard, the way they do other models like EMRAM.”

What are you hearing from health systems about the value of the assessment?

Machulsky: “80% of the systems we’ve worked with are taking the INFRAM for value purposes and 20% are using it as a test to see where they might benchmark against other health systems. On the value side, hospitals are telling us this has been one of the best offerings of all time from HIMSS Analytics in allowing them to measure their infrastructure platform.

About 50% of participants tell us the INFRAM process has uncovered a gap or deficiency in their infrastructure that they really weren’t aware of and in many cases, the discovery of that issue has come right before a major network initiative like an EMR upgrade.

A number of health systems are telling us that the INFRAM is helping to facilitate better discussions with clinical leaders, providing the data to better justify their budgetary requests for new initiatives. And some are leveraging the survey as a tool in their merger and acquisition activity. It’s a relatively quick and concise method of measuring a targeted acquisition against the five technology domains.”

What’s the future for INFRAM?

Machulsky: “You need to look no further than HIMSS Analytics EMRAM model (which measures EMR adoption). It took a couple of years but EMRAM Stage 7 is now considered a true badge of honor for health systems the world over. The INFRAM has really only been promoted since October 2018. We can see a day in the not too distant future where the INFRAM is perceived the same way as it relates to infrastructure.”

Olympic athletes are constantly measuring themselves against their peers. As the bar of excellence is raised, they respond accordingly, forever seeking that edge that will propel them to even greater success. Speed. Agility. Flexibility. Responsiveness.

For those of us in healthcare IT, the INFRAM is fast establishing the standards by which all of us will be measured.