What’s in a number?
For consumer products, that shiny plaque from J.D. Power or Consumer Reports is considered an internal badge of honor that employees (especially in the marketing department!) point to and say “see, I told you we were good.” But the survey or examination period leading up to the award is normally long and arduous and doesn’t necessarily have a strategic impact on the future of the organization (unless you have a really, really big advertising budget).
So as a certified consultant, when HIMSS Analytics introduced the Infrastructure Adoption Model (INFRAM) for healthcare last October, we expected the usual interest by hospital IT departments in benchmarking themselves against their peers. The INFRAM, a follow-up to the industry-leading EMRAM certification process (EMRAM creates standards for EHR adoption), measures infrastructure stability and manageability in the areas of:
- Data Center
The INFRAM cuts the time it takes to assess a hospital’s current infrastructure state from three months to just a few weeks. As a consultant, we thought that in itself would be impressive. What we didn’t anticipate was the response by some of North America’s leading health systems to using their score for some critical business reasons.
At the behest of their CTO, a Canadian hospital is viewing the INFRAM as a collective second set of eyes. The CTO is a seasoned and wary leader and wants the objective analysis to double check his infrastructure position. He wants to make sure they aren’t missing anything – that there are no large gaps or poor infrastructure choices which can derail a $1B+ deployment of Epic.
VertitechIT Executive Vice President of Strategic Partnerships Mike Machulsky was amazed when a nationally-known healthcare system called to conduct an INFRAM survey. The CTO was adamant that their initial INFRAM score be low and truly reflective of their current state infrastructure. He believed a lower stage score would be key in justifying new capital for IT projects. “We’re seeing some of the most respected hospital IT departments in the country, that obviously know what needs to happen, using the INFRAM as respected third-party leverage in validating infrastructure investment at the C-Suite and board level,” says Machulsky. “HIMSS Analytics provides that world-class validation.”
M&A Due Diligence
Another major northeast health system that typically acquires two to three smaller community hospitals every year is using the INFRAM as a due diligence tool. A quick and objective evaluation of an acquisition target’s infrastructure is a means of understanding how easy (or difficult) it may be to absorb the acquired technical assets into the fold. “In the M&A world, IT and infrastructure can be an afterthought,” adds Machulsky. “If it’s not poked and prodded up front, it can end up biting you later. With the INFRAM, clients are getting a very fast and objective overview of a potential target’s infrastructure sophistication. Combine that with the EMRAM model that measures EHR adoption and you’ve got an invaluable M&A evaluation tool.”
Tying it all Together
When it comes to showing how technology can help to achieve the quadruple-aim objectives of lower costs, improved population health, enhanced patient experience, and improving the work life of clinical staff, The INFRAM provides an added benefit. IT infrastructure, a mystery to most clinicians, isn’t just about routers, switches, servers, and software. A well-designed infrastructure has the power to drive institutions to meet their care delivery aspirations AND improve the lives of those at the front lines of care. Mike Machulsky says the INFRAM is a mechanism to achieve such meaningful goals. “The INFRAM does a fabulous job at showing current state maturity levels but what does that mean to a clinician and clinical outcomes? We take the results to the next level, say in the domain areas of wireless and collaboration, and apply it to lowering the cost of care, improving the patient experience through telemedicine, and things like that. The INFRAM creates a great baseline for addressing Quadruple Aim objectives.”
So what’s in a number? With INFRAM, it’s so much more than meets the IT eye.