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November 18, 2016
How your health applications look from 10,000ft?
By: Dan West

Have you ever been on a night flight and looked through the window? City lights are mesmerising—a firework frozen, mid-explosion. Cities are chaotic, and even from 10,000ft it’s hard to get your head around how they work. The myriad of applications in the average NHS hospital can be just as confusing.

Many health organisations find themselves at 10,000ft, looking down on a confusing, expensive and often disparate collection of health applications. The systems Health CIOs oversee do function, but they long to bring greater structure and simplicity to the chaos. Could yours be simpler? Do you feel in control of your health applications? Or does it resemble city lights from 10,000ft? Recently, I spoke to a client who’d been auditing their application portfolio—they had so many, they stopped counting at 300…but the aspiration is to proactively manage the portfolio. This is not unique. Through my conversations with CIOs, I’ve come to learn that many of our clients are looking for the same outcomes:

  • Lower application costs

  • Simpler IT estate management—technology complexity is driven by both the number of apps and the wide array of technology required to support them

  • Integrated data from applications that are traditionally in silos or even completely isolated

  • Improved user experiences—streamlined to consume data and function from multiple access points to smooth the care pathway

If perspective allows you to see what’s needed, how do you take that next step to regain control? It’s tempting to imagine that, like a city, it cannot be controlled. But that’s simply not the case.

Application portfolio modernisation and management has been out there for a while and it’s now being applied more widely within the NHS. The CIO I refer to above was contemplating using this approach. It requires testing whether apps are fit for purpose into the future, evaluating their supportability and evolution, their cost of maintenance—and also the available skills to continue to evolve and maintain these applications. The CIO then chooses which ones the hospital maintains and which need to be moved to other platforms—EMR for example. This process reins in the sprawling chaos and re-establishes control over a key aspect of the CIO’s portfolio. It makes the difference between being glad it all works somehow—and knowing precisely how and why it works. That’s the kind of control CIOs are looking for.

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