The relationship between finance and IT can be a delicate
one that varies from hospital facility to hospital facility. We have entered a
time where traditional IT cycles have shortened dramatically. The situation is
even made more complex by a fast-changing landscape, consolidation of the
market on one side and emerging technologies and swiftly-growing startups on
the other. HealthManagement.org spoke to top healthcare IT professionals for
their advice on how best to approach C-Suite colleagues when aiming for project
Programme Chair of Cybersecurity Technology - The Graduate School of University of Maryland University
College (UMUC) & Cybersecurity and Healthcare
Speaker & Author
- Always tie the project to the mission of the
organisation and be prepared to discuss how the project positively impacts
the mission financially. Ensure that the initiative is intimately connected
to an initiative that the CEO is interested in.
- Make the project a business project (instead
- IT project) with a major business partner as
sponsor and champion of the project.
- Be prepared to discuss how the project will
distinguish the organisation against the competition.
- Be prepared to discuss the content of your
marketing plan for the initiative, which will help the organisation gain more
clients and customers. These should include blogs, conference presentations,
articles and news pieces written by others.
Chief Information Officer
Galway Clinic, Ireland
In my opinion and experience of our current and previous CFO at the
clinic, the following points have been critical in creating a good business
Stay away from the IT jargon. Use business terms to describe exactly
what the business case is about in a way that is understandable by all.
- Explain the gains from a business point of
view, not from an IT one. What impact will it have on specific departments,
end-users and the organisation?
- Have some written support from business
leaders on the request. If possible have a co-request by IT and the
- Have transparent pricing on the capex and opex
impact of the proposed solution. Have a number of financial options ready,
for three or five years.
- Have multiple quotes for the same solution, to
show that you have done your homework.
- Do a return on investment analysis, even if it
shows that there won’t be any. Sometimes the project is only bringing greater
quality but not an ROI ; it is best to be direct about this in my experience.
- Lastly, support everything you are putting
forward with data in a clear and concise manner.
CIO , Caredoc St Dympna’s Hospital
- Never underestimate the power of cake! If you
are planning an ICT upgrade or looking for finance for a specific project,
meet your CFO and explain the plan.
- In my experience, sharing your project plan is
not going to be enough as it usually won't be read or make sense to those
funding it. They will look at the bottom line but not the impact
- What they need is the real personal impact it
will make to your employees, clinicians and patients.
- Get input from the users to explain how the
ICT is going to support them, change their work practices for the better and
ultimately contribute to the work output of the company.
- Back to cake; have an informal meeting before
the formal meeting. Explain to them what you are trying to achieve - not in
technical fancy jargon – but in plain, simple language. Explain what makes
sense for your organisation and what the impact of the new upgrade or the ICT
implementation will be.
- Return on investment is a phrase that comes up
a lot, along with “what’s this going to save me?” IT is not there to save you
money but to enhance what you do for your patients and your clinicians. You
are improving your service, improving your patients experience and ultimately
this will lead to efficiencies and effectiveness.
See Also: IT Needs for the Next Generation of Healthcare
Editor-in-Chief, IT , Health- Management.org
Head - Division of Medical
Information Sciences, University Hospitals of Geneva, Switzerland
Full Professor of clinical
informatics - University of Geneva
- Prepare well, in advance. So often, I have
seen projects prepared in a hurry. Time is the most important value we have.
However, it is way better to spend more time and resources preparing a
project well than having to repeat the process several times because it
- Include stakeholders in the process. This also
seems obvious, but there are too many projects that are managed by isolated
groups. Sometimes it is users such as finance, logistics, or users’ groups,
sometimes IT . There are very few IT projects that can be seen in a
completely isolated way. For example, catering in hospitals is often managed
separately from clinical order entry, leading to no interoperability between
diet prescription and actual meals management.
- Another example; IT infrastructure projects are
often seen as “internal IT stuff”. However, they often represent large
investments or decisions and are increasingly challenged by outsourcing. It
is worth having good consensus between strategy and implementation, thus
widening the discussions.
- Cost-Benefit, risk and added value. A careful
analysis of cost and benefit is important. What is the cost of the current
system or process and the cost of maintaining it, including potential risks?
As far as benefits are concerned, favouring sustainability, interoperability and
re-use of data software must not be forgotten. A good approach is also to try
to identify the costs and benefits for all stakeholders and present them
clearly. It is also important to thoroughly define the costs/risks of doing
- Thorough identification of short and mid-term
added value is also an important step.
- Market review and clear arguments are key.
Each good report should contain a well established list of existing solutions,
a comparison table including investment and running costs and total costs at
one, five and ten years if possible. Ideally, feedback from some existing implementation
should also be present.
- The ‘Whaaooooo’ effect. Never underestimate
the ‘Whaaooooo’ effect, but, equally, never
underestimate the “deception” effect. Huge successes are often due to
enthusiasm and bad failures due to the absence of buy-in of people.