Becoming an industry Gold Standard: Focus on Innovation

When I first joined Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center (WFBMC), I faced a challenge. One that wasn’t unique to our hospital, or to North Carolina or to teaching hospitals. The entire healthcare industry faces a perfect storm because of technology advancements. The natural evolution of technology adoption in healthcare, like any enterprise environment, is placing a strain on IT. Doctors and caregivers want to use their own devices, so IT needs to deal with the growth in end points. However, this strain compounded with the sensitive data being produced and the government regulation requiring new technical capabilities creates a unique set of challenges for healthcare IT teams. IT in the healthcare industry has quickly become an essential business enabler.

Wake Forest Baptist is a large, complex academic medical center. It is a fully integrated health system that includes the Wake Forest University College of Medicine, as well as a large medical center with over 1,000 beds, an anchor site in our university hospital in the heart of Winston-Salem, multiple community hospitals, and approximately 90 different clinic locations. While the IT management of these properties can be complex, I extended a challenge to my team to go beyond simple upkeep and focus on innovation. As a result, we put in place an aggressive 24 month transformation timeline that would turn WFBMC into a gold standard for IT in the industry.

Our goal was a lofty one — 100% infrastructure up-time – so we set about determining what changes we needed to make to accomplish this. We knew that we needed a highly automated architecture designed for flexibility and agility. And in order for our team to reinvent how we provided IT services, we needed to give them time to innovate. That meant understanding where the majority of the team’s time was spent, and then finding ways to shuffle resources.

Innovation is always a matter of prioritization of resources and time. There isn’t a CIO I’ve ever met that says, “I have more capacity than demand amongst our resources.”

VCE Vblock Systems emerged as the infrastructure that could allow us to accomplish our goals. The key factor for us was the system’s ability to free up the IT team’s time and resources by simplifying management and maintenance. This has been absolutely key in building a culture of innovation. I’ve always found people in IT really enjoy the latest, greatest technologies – we’re all wired that way. So by limiting the time my team is spending on upkeep and allowing them to explore new technology, morale stays high and we foster an environment that is always innovating.

Even with a target completion date of 2016, the results we’ve seen already have been impressive since taking on this transformation. Our network has become more agile and secure, and we enable the delivery of better care through our IT efforts. I regularly meet with partners in the area who say that they have never seen WFBMC move so quickly. In fact, they tell me that none of their other hospital partners move at this pace.

Transformation is never simple, but when you have the right tools and can create an environment that fosters forward-thinking, innovation becomes natural. VCE has enabled my team to showcase how IT is an integral part of creating a Gold Standard hospital – and allowed Wake Forest Baptist to address some of the biggest issues facing the healthcare industry today.

About the Author: Chad Eckes