It’s a balmy 34 degrees here today. Not bad for a December day here in Boston, except for the fact that the wind makes it unbearably cold. I literally just got back to the office from spending most of the day at the 2010 HealthIT Insight Summit at the Harvard Club. As I de-thaw with a warm cup of coffee, I wanted to share with you some of the insights I learned today as it pertains to enterprise mobility.
I got to participate in a roundtable discussion moderated by CIO Insight’s Editor in Chief (and good friend) Susan Nunziatta who did her usual marvelous job of moderating a session. I was joined on the panel by another couple of CIOs…actually one had the interesting title of CMIO (Chief Medical Information Officer). The CMIO worked for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the CIO worked for teaching hospital in the West Coast. They shared some very interesting stories and challenges about IT in general, but what struck me was where their organizations stood when it came to mobility.
Mobility for them, goes beyond the smartphone and smartpad, but includes any kind of application that can use a wireless LAN. Now that said, we all recognize the fact that “mobile devices” now have WLAN capabilities that blur the line on WLAN, Wide Area LAN, and WWAN begin and end. Now that said, there was one very interesting comment that came from both panelists. Both their workforce and their customers (meaning patients) are expecting increasing mobile capabilities. This isn’t just about having WLAN at a medical facility, but also the capability of bringing in their own mobile device to check email, or use a workplace-provided smartpad to view electronic medical records, or even to have applications on their devices so that they can receive the results of patient lab tests as soon as they are entered into the system. Does this by any chance sound familiar to you? This is all about increasing business velocity through the use of mobile solutions. There’s only one problem.
The organizations aren’t ready, willing or able to keep pace with the demands of their staff and “customers.” Again, does this by any chance sound familiar to you? There are myriad reasons for this in the case of healthcare. There are other projects that take higher priority and budgets are tight (again, sound familiar?). However, the most important issue I heard come up was the cultural/generational divide between the existing management and the newest crop of physicians coming out of med school who expect to have mobile connectivity. This then becomes a talent acquisition issue. How are these facilities going to be able to attract a top notch workforce if they don’t have the (mobile) infrastructure that Gen Y (and beyond) take for granted in their personal lives?
Now mind you, I fully realize that not all medical institutions are like this, but there is still a point to be made that medical centers – as well as any other industry – need to balance the need for safety, governance and industry compliance, all the while adapting to the new world of ubiquitous (mobile) technologies. This is the classic case in my mind of organizations needing to not fear change, but instead embrace it.
What can we do to help them better understand this paradigm shift?