When you think about the evolution of IT in healthcare (and really every industry), the positions of CIO and CTO were created in a world where a huge portion of their work was focused on managing the IT hardware of the organization. Going all the way back to the million dollar server purchases organizations were making, you needed someone who could manage purchases of that magnitude. Not to mention all of the networking which had to be installed and managed. I’m sure every hospital CIO and CTO has stories about the challenges of getting hard wired ports to various parts of their hospitals.
The problem for many of these CIOs and CTOs is that we’re in a very different world today. I met one hospital CIO at CHIME who had basically outsourced all of the hardware portions of his IT environment. The way he looked at, those things were a commodity service that didn’t really need to be done in house. In fact, in many ways having the IT staff in house would be a disadvantage.
For example, in his hospital (granted this is a smaller hospital) he only had enough servers to support one server administrator. Everyone knows that the word one in this situation is problematic. What happens when that one person is sick or goes on vacation? What happens if that one person leaves the organization and takes their knowledge with them? Outsourcing the hardware side of this can be a great way to remedy this situation.
The reality is that cloud computing has gotten really good. In the case mentioned above, the hospital CIO can roll up a virtual server anytime he wants using the outside service provider. Gone are the days of selecting the server, ordering the server, waiting for the server to arrive, installing the server, wiring the facility for the server, etc. No, he (or his staff) just go online and click “create new server.” Bam! New server started, provisioned and ready in a production ready environment.
Of course, this is just one example of the shift in roles that a hospital CIO and CTO will have going forward. Many are behind the curve on this and stuck in old entrenched ways. It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks. However, if you’re a CEO at one of these hospitals, you should be having these discussions with your CIO and CTO. Their worlds are changing rapidly and it requires different skillsets to navigate the changes.