I sat down with Bob Zemke, Director of Healthcare Solutions, to learn more about HIMSS Infrastructure Adoption Model (INFRAM) and get his thoughts on why it is so crucial to the strategy phase for healthcare organizations looking to support new technologies as they advance their digital transformation initiatives.
Q – Even though healthcare organizations come in all shapes and sizes, what would you say is the most common infrastructure challenge many are facing today?
A – I think the average organization is struggling to keep pace with the rapid advancements happening in technology and adopting those solutions. Healthcare typically proceeds with caution and look to other industries to test and verify the benefits first. Then, when organization leaders decide they are ready, the burden gets put on the hospital IT departments to not only implement it but also the utmost resiliency and security for a 24/7/365 environment.
Q- How does HIMSS Infrastructure Adoption Model (INFRAM) come into play when it comes to implementing new technology?
A – Healthcare organizations are often recognized by their services and technology adoption that enhance care delivery, however, many lack the ability to critically assess what their aging infrastructures can and can’t do. As a result, HIMSS recognized the need for infrastructure benchmarks hospitals could use to track their readiness for solutions and services. The harsh reality is that healthcare budgets are already stretched thin; they cannot afford a million-dollar project failure. INFRAM sets requirements and expectations for success.
For example, many healthcare organizations are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on new electronic medical record (EMR) platforms but can’t fully utilize their capabilities because of network issues. When you look at the root cause of these problems, you see that the new EMR has an expectation for mobile scanners or some other wireless capability, yet no one validated that there was wireless coverage in all the rooms to handle the influx of new devices. With such complex and often unreliable legacy networks, it can be difficult for healthcare organizations to know how to best update their infrastructure to support existing IT platforms, let alone new technologies they’d like to bring online. INFRAM helps assess these requirements prior to project kickoff to avoid costly and timely overruns.
Q – How can INFRAM be used as a proactive tool for IT strategy development?
A – To develop a sustainable digital transformation strategy that can justify targeted infrastructure improvements, healthcare organizations look to INFRAM to map their infrastructure capabilities using industry benchmarks and standards. It provides eight-stages that help identify and define the capabilities of each domain of network infrastructure – and then gather the evidence required to make the case for targeted investments that support the organization’s clinical and business goals — both today, and in the future.
Q – From your perspective and experience working with hundreds of hospitals, how is INFRAM most useful for healthcare organizations considering a new technology project?
A – When I worked in hospital IT operations, one of the areas we struggled with the most was justifying requests for capital funding. It was very hard to articulate the dependencies and risks to delivery of service if we didn’t make the proper investments in infrastructure prior to project start. INFRAM works really well as a third-party validation to justify infrastructure investment.
Q – What advice do you have for CIOs and other technology stakeholders who are considering an infrastructure investment? How can they best use INFRAM?
A – INFRAM is a fairly new model, so healthcare organizations should work closely with certified vendor partners with expertise in the INFRAM framework to better understand the state of their current infrastructure. These partners can help them assess and map their network capabilities match infrastructure requirements with information technology goals. As an industry, the current network infrastructure is a great area of risk — and one that has been underinvested in. Doing an INFRAM assessment is the first step in having an independent evaluation of your network siloes and how they compare to industry standards regarding security, collaboration, resiliency, and reliability. It allows healthcare organizations to start a conversation with their stakeholders about where they are and where they need to be as they make decisions about capital funding projects and next generation initiatives.
To learn more about how INFRAM and how Extreme Networks solutions help deliver value at each stage of the INFRAM framework, check out the HIMSS whitepaper: INFRAM: What it is, why it matters, and how you can leverage it.