The winners of the 2016 Best Hospital IT Departments are clearly doing something right. At all of the top 20 shops – whether tiny five-person teams at rural providers or sprawling, hundreds-deep health systems support squads – these health IT teams expressed deep satisfaction with the jobs they do. So how do chief information officers […]
Health IT costs for physician practices are soaring, yet there isn’t much evidence that all the spending has been worth it, a new report suggests.
In its annual report on cost and revenue for physician practices, the Medical Group Management Association found that physician-owned multispecialty practices spent $32,592 per full-time doctor on IT hardware, software, maintenance, staff and other needs in 2015. That is up 42 percent from $22,944 in 2009 and 19.5 percent from $27,285 in 2011, the Englewood, Colorado-based MGMA said.
The 2015 costs break down as $9,405 for IT staff and $23,187 for equipment, maintenance and supplies.
In recent years, providers have been hit with multiple federal mandates and programs that have necessitated health IT spending. These include the transitions to the ANSI 5010 standard for HIPAA transactions in 2012 and to ICD-10 in 2015, as well as Meaningful Use and the Physician Quality Reporting System. “It’s the sheer number of them,” said Robert Tennant, MGMA director of health IT policy.
And there has not been a solid return on investment, according to the report.
“They spend this money and they’re really not sure that they’ve gotten what they were promised,” Tennant said. The improved patient outcomes, reduced hassle and lower costs simply haven’t materialized, he explained.
“There’s really no correlation between the [Meaningful Use] program and improved patient care,” Tennant said. Usability has been a well-documented issue with electronic health records, too.
“Productivity is suffering,” Tennant added. “There’s a level of frustration with technology that I’ve never seen before.”
Healthcare has long been perceived as being far behind the rest of the business world when it comes to adopting information technology, but Tennant didn’t think that the need to play catch-up has been a major factor in the escalating costs.
“To be competitive in today’s healthcare environment, you have to offer all the bells and whistles,” he said. For medical practices, that means patient portals, 24/7 access to test results and the ability to schedule appointments and pay bills online. “In the D.C. market, that’s a huge selling point,” the Washington-based Tennant said.
Plus, he added, new physicians, who grew up in the digital age and used EHRs in medical school and residency, do not want to work at paper-based practices.
Photo: RoBeDeRo/Getty Images
In a bid to keep top tech talent in the building, some tech companies have resorted to extraordinary perks, from free sushi at lunch to in-house gyms and dry cleaning. But is the talent actually happy? According to a new survey, software engineers, developers, and sysadmins are pretty miserable in the office.
The company conducting the survey, TinyPulse, asked 5,000 employees in the tech space about their individual experience on the job, including overall happiness. Only 19 percent of respondents felt overwhelmingly positive about their work life; another 17 percent said they felt valued at work; and a mere 47 percent believed they had strong relationships with co-workers.
Compared with the responses from employees in marketing and finance (also surveyed by TinyPulse), those numbers are dismal. In addition to generalized unhappiness, only 36 percent of tech employees felt their promotion and career path were clear—compared to 50 percent of non-tech employees.
“There’s widespread workplace dissatisfaction in the tech space, and it’s undermining the happiness and engagement of these employees,” TinyPulse concluded. “The problem goes beyond workplace satisfaction—Gallup found that engagement is one of the key ingredients for employee innovation.”
These survey results indicate something that should be obvious to any company, large or small: While conventional perks are great, employees are also looking for a broader sense of mission, and want to feel that they’re valued by the larger organization. Encouraging strong relationships between co-workers can also help mitigate feelings of unhappiness. Free sushi only goes so far.
When it comes to managing, subtlety can prove just as effective as more heavy-handed techniques, especially when dealing with team members who have strong opinions. You want employees who will willingly go along with the strategy, rather than act as blockers. (Or as Dwight D. Eisenhower once reportedly put it: “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”)
What are some good techniques for managing and influencing without bringing the proverbial hammer down? Take a look:
Understand Any Resistance to Change
Do your reports not seem all that excited about a new initiative? Is there grumbling in the ranks about the company’s strategy? Before you confront the issue, make sure you understand the reasons behind their skepticism. When talking to your team members, keep the following questions in mind:
- Does the team member understand all aspects of the strategy?
- Does the team member understand the problems or issues that the strategy will solve?
- Does the team member understand what will happen if the strategy isn’t implemented?
Once you’ve voiced the benefits of the strategy, the resisting team member may have questions—or even an alternate strategy. Listen to them, and be prepared to (politely) address those concerns.
Adapt to Social Styles
Everyone has a different “social style,” or way of approaching life. In broadest strokes, there are four primary social styles:
Driver: Direct, results-orientated
Expressive: Outgoing, creative, social
Amiable: Dependable, easygoing, sensitive
Analytical: Systematic, accurate, structured, logical
Once you understand your report’s “style,” you can more effectively respond to their concerns or resistance:
- Drivers are best influenced through direct but brief, results-orientated discussions.
- Expressives want social contact; including them in any decision-making is the best way to sway them.
- Amiables place a high regard on harmony and like to avoid personal risk. In order to best influence an Amiable, show patience and query about their feelings.
- Analyticals are focused on ideas, so it’s best to provide them with hard evidence and invite their critiques.
Make Your Points… And Stress the Positives
When pitching ideas to others, it is important to create a good order and flow of points to set the scene for maximum receptivity. Start with something that catches their attention (short, personal stories are always good); from there, move on to explaining the problem.
Only after explaining the problem, tell them what you are suggesting, as well as the benefits if the problem is solved. Be explicit, and don’t assume that people will magically know what you expect of them. Clearly show how your idea will create more value than the cost.
If your idea links to a key organizational strategy, then make the link explicit—never assume that others will do that. With a detailed enough explanation, you can greatly increase the odds of your good ideas being taken to heart.
The cloud computing industry is dominated by different services including public, private and hybrid models. Although all three are enjoying increasing success and adoption rates, private solutions in particular appear to be striking a chord with businesses worldwide, as the demand for these suites is expected to increase at a consistent rate in the coming years.
A recent TechNavio report projected the global private cloud industry to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 22 percent between 2013 and 2018. The research firm explained private tools are "secure and distinct," delivering powerful "-as-a-Service" functionality through a virtual environment with the support of physical equipment. Private services also include data, hardware, storage and applications.
Public clouds differ from private counterparts because of accessibility. The former model involves cloud systems shared by multiple tenants. Private platforms are only used by a single business. This is important to many organizations, especially those concerned over keeping unauthorized parties from viewing sensitive data and other resources.
Private cloud users outsourcing maintenance
Companies no longer have to manage every facet of their IT departments if they adopt cloud computing. This is because vendors handle these tasks, enabling customers to refocus on internal corporate goals, building their brand up in the process.
A Technology Business Research report found the cloud market will be worth $41 billion in 2014. Through 2018, the industry will experience compound annual growth rate of 14 percent to $69 billion.
Of the organizations polled, 70 percent rely on third-party service providers to manage their private clouds, while 30 percent perform these tasks on their own. In the next two years, TBR expects more companies to partner with vendors due to security and complexity challenges with their cloud environments.
Overall, 59 percent of companies cited security as their No. 1 concern or pain point regarding using cloud solutions. Nearly 20 percent expect to hire third-party vendors to address these challenges, TBR found.
"As private cloud matures, growth is entering a different phase that is driven more by the flexibility and ease of management than by just security or cost savings. The skills gap in implementing, migrating and managing private cloud is driving customers to seek vendors that deliver clear and end-to-end migration road maps," said TBR Cloud Practice Manager and Principal Analyst Allan Krans.
Clients want personalized service
Customers interested in adopting cloud computing do not want any type of model – they desire environments suited to their specific operational needs. Cloud vendors that try to offer all types of services may struggle to attract new clients and keep them on board for a long time. This is especially important given that cloud solutions are available through subscription-based pricing models. If a client is not satisfied with the results, it can simply take its business elsewhere.
Cassandra Mooshian, a cloud analyst at TBR, said some of the world's largest cloud vendors have some of the lower customer satisfaction scores compared to other service providers that offer "more focused portfolios.
"Trying to be all things to all people deters customers that want those tailored and specialized solutions; think of Walmart versus a grocery store," Mooshian added.
Organizations that want a secure and functional cloud model should feel right at home with a private deployment. First-time adopters should make sure they conduct some extensive research before selecting a vendor to avoid partnering with a service provider that only offers broad suites. Otherwise, businesses will have to put in more work to find a company that can, rather than experiencing the advantages of the technology itself.
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Researchers at IBM's Zurich facility have developed software to use cloud storage services as a backup
The cloud is an environment for remotely deployed applications to operate. In essence, it serves as an actual operating system (OS) for those deployed applications. For instance, the cloud offers resources in terms of storage, processing power, memory, IO, security and identity services, and everything else required by a general use OS. It’s probably more accurate to use the term virtual operating system to refer to the cloud in this respect. read more