Technology Collaboration

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Collaboration is the action of working with someone to produce or create something new. The definition is 1+1=3. When two or more work together their ability to create is exponentially enhanced.   That is the great theory of collaboration – the ideal of something greater in scope then what one mind can create.

The reality of collaboration is it takes work, understanding, and trust. In complex scenarios, where multiple departments are providing work and receiving value, it takes a lot of “Greater Good” mentality.   Why? Because the value received by the stakeholders is imbalanced. It may reduce the workload of the front line employee but increase the workload of the support staff. It may only relieve a small amount of costs or workload from a department that is participating but they are needed to ensure that the project be executed well.

A technology implementation is often the most complex collaborative experiences that a hospital can encounter. It requires participation from multiple stakeholders such as clinical, multiple areas of IT, doctors, and other departments. It also includes partnership with one or more vendors.  This multi-faceted engagement often means aligning multiple value sets, cultures, and desired outcomes. However, the collaboration where people with varied skill set contribute means over riding success.

There are dozens of well thought out approaches to technology collaborations worth reviewing. Here are just a few simple tips to help move you thru the process:

1)     Define the Greater Good first and set clear expectations for all involved.. Patient Care is the ultimate goal of any hospital project. The answer to this question must always be “Yes.” Are we serving the patient well?  If it were your parent, spouse, loved one, or child would this enhance their stay and make them heal better and faster?

One hospital had a picture of a patient who had passed away as a result of an error;  implementing the new technology could have saved that patient. This became the battle cry for the project. This hospital even named the project after the patient as a constant reminder of their goal.    Greater Good  is motivating, inspiring, and will help to deliver higher quality results.

  • Vendors: One of my favorite Dad lines when he would “close the sale” at a hospital was  “We live here, when we get sick we go to your hospitals, when we have babies we go to your hospital, when our kids break their arm we go to your hospital…..it benefits us as much as you to make sure that your hospital works well for the community.”  Dad was sincere and his sentiment. It should be on the mind of every vendor. Even if you don’t live in town where the hospital is (which is common) do you connect with the community or patient population your product or service benefits?

2)     Identify the Vendors role and adopt them into your family…. I know this sounds odd but go with me on it. I have been a vendor on multiple projects and there is a VAST difference working with a hospital that adopts you as their own and one who “treats you like a vendor”. While every vendor has a responsibility based on the scope and PO to deliver what is expected, there is a level of buy in that occurs when they feel accepted.

One of my favorite experiences was being hired by a hospital for a consulting project. They handed me a fleece jacket that was embroidered with the hospital logo when the contract was signed.  It matched the jackets the rest of the department I was working with. I had been adopted.   I worked harder for that hospital – comped more hours then I should have – because I was part of their team.

  • Hospital: Does your corporate culture promote comradery for a team or does it encourage the “you get ahead if you shine” mentality? Hospitals that have a dog eat dog culture are more challenged in a complex collaborative scenario because they lack the ability to share, and engage with their peers.  It’s a hard gut check when you examine your own culture.

These two tips may seem a bit soft for some of you, but honestly – healthcare is about helping people…. a wise woman recently told me– your first responsibility is to the sick people, they are your client.   Something to consider before your next project.

I have had the chance to sit in a hospital a lot over the past few weeks as I watched a friend slowly transition from this world to heaven.  Our job matters – quiet environments matter when you are watching your friend pass away…..timely communication matters when a nurse is calling a doctor for one last ditch effort….the complexity of our collaboration, the challenges associated with multi-disciplinary collaboration, the struggle of working with vendors who values don’t always align with ours…..these things pale in comparison to the deliverable which is patient care.

Kudos to the folks at KU Hospital who treated my friend with dignity as he transitioned. Kudos to the nurses who were so gentle – the doctors who were so determined – the hospital that was so respectful right to the end. You were wonderful.

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