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Strategic Planning for Healthcare IT, Part II

By: Chris Olson

Two doctors shaking hands to each other sitting at the table in hospital office

In the first part of this Strategic Planning for Healthcare IT series I focused on defining a framework and assessing the current state of a healthcare organization’s IT portfolio.  In the second part I will describe the definition of the desired future state, address the identification of gaps between current state and future state, and discuss the definition of the organization’s strategic plan – i.e., roadmap.

All of these areas are subject to change based upon changing technology and regulations.  When change occurs (and it will) the organization will be able to leverage this same approach to modify the future state, gaps, and roadmap as needed.

Definition of Future State

After agreeing upon the current state, SEI worked with the same diverse set of leaders to identify the desired future state.  The desired future state included much, but not all, of the HIMSS EMRAM Stage 7 criteria along with some organization-specific requirements.  Giving these leaders the opportunity to discuss the desired future state, based upon their agreed upon current state, resulted in a meaningful and realistic discussion.  In fact, those involved focused a majority of their discussion around information capture and usability.

Identification of Gaps between Current and Future States

The clear definition of current and future states enabled a clear articulation of gaps – i.e., what needed to be addressed in order to move from current to future state.  These gaps were defined as projects and presented back to the leadership team for review and discussion.  Overall, everyone agreed with the gaps identified and the high level definition of projects required to close them.

Definition of Roadmap

The final step in the strategic planning process was to sequence the projects required to realize the agreed upon future state. The roadmap went through a number of iterations based upon varying assumptions and what-if scenarios.  Providing the big picture view (short-term and long-term) and telling the story of how the sequence of projects could contribute to the desired future state contributed to the acceptance of the process and the plan.  The long-term view also facilitated discussion on the impact of various levers to the overall plan.  These levers included increasing the FTE count, considering buy versus build for desired functionality, and discontinuation or postponement of planned projects.

The Future

A strong IT Governance structure is critical for the successful execution of this strategic planning effort.  As the organization moves forward, new regulations and functional requests will be presented.  Some of these requests will be consistent with the roadmap, while others will not.  IT Governance via active participation from senior leadership will be essential to keep the organization focused on the roadmap or change the direction of the roadmap as necessary.

Hopefully this information is helpful for your organization’s situation as it traverses the roadmap of current to future state.  Be aware that there will be other challenges as part of the journey.  So keep an eye out for a future post about the effectiveness of the IT Governance process!

Chris Olson


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