Strategic planning and removing IT sprawl: the first steps in healthcare's digital journey

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Healthcare organisations around the globe are in various stages of digital transformation, moving away from paper and adopting a variety of systems such as electronic medical records and laboratory, pathology and radiology solutions. Unfortunately, many are implementing systems randomly. This type of ‘digitisation without direction’ has led to IT sprawl.

Now is the time to engage in purposeful digital journeys. Today’s healthcare leaders must strategically anticipate the data, information systems and infrastructure requirements that will help their organisations meet the industry and business needs of tomorrow.

Such efforts are unfolding at Mater Misericordiae Health Services.

Map it out

“Earlier this year, we released our digital strategy, which is a document that we developed after thorough consultation within the organisation,” said Sallyanne Wissmann, Director, Information Management for the Brisbane, Australia-based healthcare provider.

“In the past, we have had IT strategic plans, but this is a digital roadmap that spells out how we’ll use digital technology to better enable our services and support our lines of business as well as our partners outside of the organisation. So, as new requests come along, they are being actively assessed against the principles and the intent of that digital roadmap.”

While strategic planning helps organisations secure the technology needed to meet future goals, for true transformation, healthcare organisations must address their IT sprawl. The first step? Surveying what systems are currently in place throughout the organisation.

Leave no stone unturned

Besides leveraging the road map to bring in the most valuable new systems, Mater Misericordiae is taking a current inventory of systems. In doing so, the organisation will determine which applications users regularly access and if there are redundancies in systems or capabilities.

“We are trying to identify those applications that we have duplicated in terms of functionality and those that could be rationalised or migrated with other applications and eliminated,” Wissmann explained. “We are conducting an objective assessment to identify those systems that are no longer required and could be decommissioned.”

To accomplish this, Mater is using a questionnaire that has been developed to uncover the relative worth of each IT application.

“Business owners and users of the system answer questions to determine if the system is something that the organisation still needs. For example, ‘Is it fit for its purpose? At what point do we keep investing in the system? Do we need to replace it? Do we need to amalgamate it with something else? What have we got at the moment? And what value are we getting out of that?’ All of this will tell us how can we streamline our current investments in cost and efficiency,” Wissmann said. Additionally, Mater is developing a standardised approach to bringing information systems into the organisation with more stringent governance processes in place.

Leverage your data

In addition to more purposefully purchasing, implementing and managing systems according to a well-thought-out strategic plan, organisations find they need to identify and implement solutions for the express purpose of making it possible to fully leverage data. Comprehensive enterprise content management systems integrate, manage and organise electronic information culled from various applications. Organisations take advantage of work flow, improved search functionality and the ability to present the information their clinicians and staff need within the application they use most.

Currently, Mater uses a content management system to support a central online repository of scanned clinical information, integrated into an existing clinical portal, which displays clinical information from multiple sources. However, Wissmann agrees that the digital journey will eventually lead her organisation, and others, to more fully leverage its content management solution to strategically manage all of their data.

Fortunately, its existing solution, OnBase by Hyland’s enterprise content services platform, positions it well for growth. OnBase minimises IT sprawl by decreasing the number of systems that organisations need to manage data while reducing silos and disconnected applications.

“It’s an application that will aid us on our digital journey and help future proof us,” Wissmann said.

About Hyland:

Hyland is a leading provider of software solutions for managing content, processes and cases. For over 25 years, Hyland has helped more than 20,000 customers around the globe transform their organisations by empowering them to become more agile, efficient and effective. Every day, more than 2000 healthcare organisations use Hyland’s suite of content and imaging solutions to complete patient records, eliminate reimbursement delays and enhance business processes. For more information, please visit

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