The healthcare industry largely sat on the sidelines while the rest of the industrialized world embraced the digital era. Not until the government decided to mandate electronic record keeping did healthcare understand we had a lot of catching up to do. Now the task is a lot harder than it would have been had the industry embraced digital technology a decade ago. For executives, this means an entirely new world of headaches many have never experienced before. Today’s healthcare management jobs require more tech knowledge than they ever have in the past.
Tech knowledge begins with understanding that the new healthcare paradigm requires information technology (IT) to be an integral part of both the business and delivery sides of medicine. IT is no longer just a support service that the facility could get by without if need be. As such, IT leaders need to be part of the executive management team. The chief information officer (CIO) of any healthcare facility needs to be a senior executive who reports directly to the CEO or COO.
Above and beyond that, healthcare executives need to become familiar with the latest state of the industry insofar as technology is concerned. They need to be aware of:
- Hardware – tech-based medical devices, wearables, etc.
- Software – for electronic record keeping, facility management, communications, etc.
- Mobile Apps – mobility runs the modern world, executives need to be up to speed
- Systems – methods and systems to run a facility need to be upgraded.
According to GE Healthcare’s Didier Deltort, bringing the industry up to speed requires a lot of changes. He told the Financial Times in a June 2015 interview that healthcare managers must embrace change despite their fears – if they are to eliminate the inefficiencies that a lack of technology creates. The key to providing effective healthcare in the era of cost cutting is to remove inefficiency through technology.
New Kind of Manager
It is probably safe to say that the rapidly changing healthcare industry is in need of a new kind of manager capable of mixing the right combination of business knowledge, healthcare experience, and technical expertise. A more well-rounded executive capable of seeing healthcare management through multiple sets of eyes is a manager better equipped to handle the big picture. Moreover, where executive management is concerned, the big picture is essential.
Delegating individual components to lower-level managers is what makes the system work. Nevertheless, if upper-level management does not have a handle on technology, they will not know how or what to delegate to lower levels. The results will be continued inefficiency and a lack of management cohesiveness. This is never helpful.
Dedicated Training Opportunities
Perhaps the time has come for specialized training opportunities that specifically prepare individuals to take healthcare management jobs. Perhaps it is time to bring an end to the practice of concentrating on either business executives or former healthcare practitioners to fill management roles. Healthcare is changing. It is changing at a pace rapid enough to leave behind those who do not make the effort to keep up.
Indeed, healthcare management jobs in the digital age require more tech knowledge than they ever have in the past. It would be wonderful to see schools develop healthcare management course programs that teach every aspect of modern facility management, including how to integrate technology to make delivery of healthcare services more efficient and cost-effective. That would go a long way toward eliminating the inefficiencies that help to prop up ever-growing healthcare costs. It will not solve the problem completely, but it is an excellent starting point.
Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.