Arthur Harvey, Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Boston Medical Center, examined portfolio management in the healthcare industry in his keynote presentation at the 2017 Technology Innovation in Healthcare Forum in New York City on April 25. In his presentation, “Doing the Right Things – Portfolio Management in a Rapidly Changing Industry,” Harvey explored how healthcare organizations can optimize the IT resources at their disposal.
According to Harvey, portfolio management can be dull, especially in contrast to innovation. But there is a direct correlation between portfolio management and healthcare, and understanding this link may help a healthcare provider deliver improved patient outcomes.
In the healthcare space, innovation is paramount. Many healthcare providers are constantly exploring ways to innovate, yet few of these providers understand what it takes to optimize the time and resources that are available.
“[Healthcare] is a different industry than most,” Harvey said. “The good news is we get to do some good stuff. The bad news is it can be particularly tough to do stuff. We’re highly regulated, and there’s lots and lots of things to do.”
Without effective portfolio management, healthcare providers will struggle to innovate, Harvey said. These providers will be unable to maximize the value of their time and resources, thereby missing out on opportunities to drive innovation at all levels of their organizations.
“If you don’t do [portfolio management], you’re never going to have time to innovate,” Harvey stated.
Ultimately, innovation is fun and exciting, regardless of a healthcare provider’s size or stature. And with effective portfolio management, a healthcare provider can get the most out of its time and resources and innovate like never before.
“Innovation is fun. We all want to innovate … but if you don’t have control and understanding of what you’re actually doing, then you don’t know exactly how much time you’re spending on innovation,” Harvey indicated.
At Boston Medical Center, innovation once was deployed based on “Swipple’s Rule of Order,” i.e. the idea that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease,” Harvey said.
“We never said no to anybody. We had an infinite pile of projects, but only the projects at the top got done, because the people involved with them were noisy,” Harvey said.
In many instances, IT dictates how time and resources are allocated relative to innovation. But to foster true innovation, both healthcare professionals and IT teams must work together to get the best results.
“The louder that someone is yelling about getting something done, the less value it has to the organization,” he pointed out. “If something has real value to an organization, everybody knows it, and nobody has to yell about it.”
Innovation should be an organization-wide initiative, particularly for healthcare providers, Harvey said. And with the right approach to portfolio management, a healthcare provider can drive a culture of innovation day after day, Harvey noted.
“Innovation is fun. We all want to innovate … but if you don’t have control and understanding of what you’re actually doing, then you don’t know exactly how much time you’re spending on innovation.”
At Boston Medical Center, the organization now uses data to understand healthcare patterns and trends. This information helps Boston Medical Center’s team identify opportunities and deliver enhanced patient outcomes, according to Harvey.
“We don’t just do healthcare,” he said. “We do data-driven healthcare, and that’s important.”
Moreover, the Boston Medical Center team understands that data alone is insufficient, and healthcare professionals must be able to analyze data to gain deep insights into patient patterns and trends.
“If all you’re doing is producing data, then the patients won’t get better. We’re here to serve the people … and if IT is deciding what to do, then we’re dead,” Harvey indicated.
Boston Medical Center also explored innovation projects that would deliver far-flung benefits across the organization. It implemented portfolio management processes and procedures that would require individuals to be accountable for their actions. By doing so, Boston Medical Center was able to foster collaboration that led its team to discover innovative ways to support its staff and patients.
“We wanted to make sure that the projects we took on were useful for the entire organization,” Harvey stated. “We wanted to hold everybody accountable.”
Furthermore, Boston Medical Center wanted to build a culture that encouraged individuals to strive for innovation in all that they do.
“If something has real value to an organization, everybody knows it, and nobody has to yell about it.”
To create this culture, Boston Medical Center empowered its team with the necessary tools and resources to foster innovation. And if team members made mistakes along the way, they would be able to learn from their errors and continue to explore ways to help the organization grow and develop.
“We wanted to look in the mirror fairly. If it was our fault, we wanted it to be on us, and that’s okay,” Harvey said. “And we wanted to get more stuff done.”
Portfolio management and innovation can help an ordinary healthcare provider become an exceptional one, according to Harvey. If a healthcare provider dedicates the time and resources to bolster its portfolio management practices, it may be able to launch unprecedented innovations that can reshape the healthcare industry.
Arthur W. Harvey III, MS, CPHIMS has 30 years of experience in the healthcare informatics field with a particular focus on building high performing HIT teams at provider organizations. He currently serves as Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Boston Medical Center and as Program Chair for the Health and Medical Informatics Graduate Program at Brandeis University. Arthur holds a BA from Boston College in Economics and Computer Science as well as an MS in Information Technology Management from Brandeis University. He is a Certified Professional in Healthcare Information Management Systems and serves as chair of the HIMSS Professional Development Committee.