Managing information effectively: A necessity for healthcare providers


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Managing information effectively is a series of four reports focused on strategies for managing information flow and security across and within sectors. Each report focuses on one of four sectors: healthcare, government and public sector; retail banking and discrete manufacturing.

The reports are based on the findings of research that HP conducted in cooperation with the Economist Intelligence Unit in June 2010, which included a survey of 332 executives in healthcare (23% of respondents), retail banking (24%), discrete manufacturing (27%), and government/public sector (26%). The respondents are heads of their departments or higher; 29% are C-level or board-level executives. Geographically, 34% hail from North America, 31% from Western Europe, and 28% from Asia Pacific. All respondents from the retail banking sector work at firms with a minimum of US$25bn in assets; respondents from the healthcare and discrete manufacturing sectors work for organizations with annual revenues of US$500m or more; and public sector officials are from government entities with budgets of at least US$500m per year.

This HP white paper is designed to share insight and stimulate dialog about the management of information flow and security within the healthcare sector.

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Managing information effectively: A necessity for healthcare providers

  1. 1. Managing information effectively:a necessity for healthcare providersBusiness white paper This HP white paper is designed to share insight and stimulate dialog about the management of information flow and security within the healthcare sector. It is based on the findings of research that HP conducted in cooperation with the Economist Intelligence Unit in June 2010, which included a survey of 332 executives in healthcare (23 percent of respondents), retail banking (24 percent), discrete manufacturing (27 percent), and government/public sector (26 percent). The respondents are heads of their departments or higher; 29 percent are C-level or board-level executives. Geographically, 34 percent hail from North America, 31 percent from Western Europe, and 28 percent from Asia Pacific. All respondents from the retail banking sector work at firms with a minimum of $25 billion USD in assets; all other respondents work for organizations with annual revenues or budgets of $500 million USD or more. HP foreword..................................................................................... 2 Managing information effectively: a cross-industry perspective.............. 3 Healthcare organizations grapple with mandate to manage information..................................................................................... 6 HP conclusion................................................................................... 8In cooperation with the Economist Intelligence Unit
  2. 2. HP foreword When Hewlett-Packard Company spun off Agilent Technologies in 1999, some observers wondered if HP was leaving the healthcare market. The company’s move away from businesses that were unrelated to computers, storage, and imaging and printing was, however, being misunderstood. Evidence of this is IDC’s 2010 ranking of HP as one of the world’s leading healthcare IT companies, reflecting its expanded focus on software, services, and solutions to meet healthcare customer needs. HP is a company focused on understanding hospital payer and provider growth strategies, business initiatives, and regulatory compliance issues. As an industry leader in hardware, software, services, and consulting, HP continues to differentiate itself as a global source in healthcare IT. Toward this end, HP collaborated with the Economist Intelligence Unit to explore how information flow and security affect business drivers and priorities within healthcare, especially as compared with other industry sectors. In light of new legislation and the pressure for electronic medical record-keeping, this research could not have come at a more interesting time. It revealed several vital issues facing the healthcare industry as it responds to changes in the regulatory environment and in patient care—all predicated on healthcare’s unique obligation to manage the health and enhance the quality of life of healthy and sick patients. The study’s findings were especially revealing in areas of healthcare modernization, information flow and security, and compliance. Although the relative importance of these concerns varied from one geographical region to another, the research showed that they are worldwide concerns. Technology should play an important role in meeting these challenges. Randy Hickel Market Development Consultant HP Enterprise Healthcare, Imaging and Printing Group2
  3. 3. Managing information effectively:a cross-industry perspectiveInformation, an essential asset for organizations, is always difficult to manage effectively—and it is even moreso in periods of economic turmoil and transition, when complexity increases and the stakes are higher. Forthe past decade or more, organizations have been striving to build more open and collaborative relationshipswith their customers, partners, suppliers, and other stakeholders. When the recession took hold, many suchinitiatives took a back seat as cost-cutting became first priority.Now, with the effects of the recession waning, many organizations in developed markets are moving froma focus on costs towards new growth strategies, while some firms in emerging markets are experiencingrapid expansion, at home and abroad. Companies in heavily regulated industries such as financial servicesand healthcare are adapting to constantly changing regulations that affect how their businesses operate. Incontrast, the public sector is still feeling the impact of the recession, with governments facing shrunken receiptsand greater demands for social services. And nearly every organization, regardless of sector or geography,is adapting to new technologies—such as advanced collaboration tools, mobile communications, and socialmedia—that are changing how people interact and how business is done.Whether they are renewing growth plans or still dealing with the aftermath of the crisis, organizationscan benefit from more efficient and secure use of information, which can help them identify and dealwith both opportunities and risks. Our survey results show that executives in healthcare, retail banking,discrete manufacturing, and the public sector are addressing a host of challenges—from organizational totechnological, and from regulatory to budgetary—as they assess the long-term impact of the recession ontheir markets and businesses. At the same time, they are striving to bridge an apparent gap between thegoals of their information strategies and their ability to act on those goals. The survey also shows that whilemost decision-makers are uncertain about the effectiveness of their information strategies today, they expect toimprove how they manage and secure information in the next three years. This report presents the overall keyfindings, followed by the results in the healthcare sector.Complex information flows require reviewSurveys show that the flow of information across global organizations with geographically dispersed businessunits, departments, and functions is growing increasingly complex, incorporating both formal and informalchannels. Often, even when senior management mandates formal strategies and policies, and effectiveprocesses and technologies support formal flows, it is the personal relationships between employees or thepreferences and styles of individual managers and supervisors that still determine what is shared with whom.Information flows within organizations are complex(% of respondents who agree with the following statements about the flow of information across their organization)Information flow is electronic and 57%supported by effective processes 62%and technology 51% 65%Senior management has mandated 43%a strategy and policies for the flow 71%of information that are practiced 45%widely throughout the organization 48%Information flows based on the 53% 41%preferences and styles of individual 56%managers and supervisors 47%Information flows informally based 48% 41%on personal relationships between 55%employees 48% Healthcare Retail banking Government Discrete manufacturingSource: Economist Intelligence Unit, June 2010 3
  4. 4. This finding is not in itself surprising. However, it raises questions about the effectiveness of existing formal strategies and policies, and suggests that organizations should continuously review how they manage information to extract maximum benefit. The growing flood of unstructured information, which is by its nature more difficult to manage formally, also makes periodic reviews and strategic adjustments essential. (In this analysis, unstructured information is defined as information that does not exist inside a data model that can be read and understood by a computer, and that therefore requires human intervention. Examples include email, instant messages, audio files, and paper documents and forms.) Lack of an information strategy increases risk A large majority—80 percent—of respondents say their organization has a strategy for improving the flow of information. Although most are satisfied with their strategies, about 25 percent of organizations that have strategies are changing how they deal with information. These organizations seem especially aware of the need to adapt in response to the improving economic climate and emerging trends in their sectors. A small but significant minority (13 percent) of respondents have no strategy for improving information flows. There are several possible explanations. These organizations may still be in the grip of the recession, worried more about survival than growth. They may be slow to respond to the opportunities that an improving economy creates. Or they may be latecomers to the now widely accepted notion that more open dissemination and use of information throughout an organization leads to better business outcomes. Regardless of why they lack such a strategy, however, these organizations are at an extreme disadvantage in today’s dynamic environment compared with their more information-savvy competitors. Information strategies shift focus from efficiency to effectiveness Organizations that have strategies for improving the flow of information throughout the enterprise today are pursuing greater operational efficiencies, seeking to increase the speed and lower the cost of critical business processes, and improve employee productivity and effectiveness. They can do so through better collaboration and/or the ability to provide employees with the right information at the right time to do their jobs. These organizations are also responding to the need to comply with legal, regulatory, or internal governance standards. In three years, however, collaboration is expected to be the most important driver of information strategies, suggesting a stronger focus on employee effectiveness. DRIVERS OF INFORMATION FLOW STRATEGIES CHANGE IN THREE YEARS RANK (Based on % of respondents who chose up to 3 among 12 drivers) Today In 3 years Need to facilitate collaboration across departments, functions, and geographies 4 1 Employees need the right information at the right time to do their jobs 1 2 Need to increase efficiency and speed of business processes 3 3 Compliance with legal, regulatory, or internal information governance standards 2 4 Source: Economist Intelligence Unit, June 2010 Collaboration becomes even more important as organizations grow and become more geographically dispersed. The adoption of flexible work arrangements—such as telecommuting—creates other challenges, making it more difficult for people to connect informally in the workplace. Yet sharing information across business units, departments, functional areas, and geographies is never straightforward. Survey respondents cite organizational silos as one of the three main barriers to effective information strategies—the others being the perennial challenges of cost and aligning technology systems, each chosen by 37 percent of respondents).4
  5. 5. Organizations have more confidence in information securityRespondents generally have more confidence in their information security strategies than in their strategiesfor improving information flows. Just 13 percent of organizations are changing how they deal with security;27 percent report that they have no need to do so. The 11 percent that have no information security strategyare exposed to greater risk.Organizations confident in their information security strategies (% of respondents) No strategy 11% Implementing now 37% No need to change 27% Planning to implement 8% Currently Don’t changing 13% know 4% Source: Economist Intelligence Unit, June 2010While most respondents report having formal strategies, just half say their organization has a single personor department with primary responsibility for information security. This suggests that in most organizations,keeping information secure is the job of individual business units or departments—not a top-down mandate.A fragmented approach to information security is to be expected in organizations that are subject to regulatoryrequirements from several different authorities. In other organizations, though, this approach likely inhibitsefforts to protect information from security breaches.An analysis of survey results by sector provides a more detailed view of how organizations manage informationflow and security. It shows the healthcare sector as relatively immature in its information flow strategies, laggingbehind other sectors in both process and technology support. Yet it is a leader in security—a reflection ofregulatory mandates, especially in the United States. 5
  6. 6. Healthcare organizations grapple with mandate to manage information Few sectors are undergoing as much change as healthcare, especially in the United States. (For purposes of this report, the healthcare sector excludes the life sciences.) Reform legislation ultimately will provide coverage to 38 million more Americans. The U.S. Federal government has set aside nearly $20 billion USD in stimulus money to modernize healthcare IT, focused primarily on the use of electronic medical records. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy and security provisions focusing on electronic medical records, which will go into effect over the next few years, are another area of concern. Healthcare systems worldwide face similar challenges. They must balance quality with cost of and access to care. They must find more effective ways to collect, store, and process information generated through the practice of medicine. They must conform to mandates for electronic medical records, which require information to be shared securely across geographically dispersed organizations. And they must do all of this with ever- changing rules, industry standards, and government regulations. In the face of these challenges, the survey shows, healthcare executives worldwide are reevaluating their strategies for improving the flow of information across their organizations. Sector lacks confidence and clarity in information flow strategies Survey results suggest that the healthcare sector is relatively immature in adopting information strategies and technologies, especially in nonclinical applications. They also point to a sector in flux. As in other sectors, information flows both formally and informally in healthcare. Where healthcare diverges is in the details. Respondents in this sector are second most likely to say that information flows informally (based on personal relationships [48 percent] and preferences [53 percent]), without support from effective processes and technology (57 percent). They are least likely to say that information flows are based on senior level mandates (43 percent). A comparatively large number has no opinion on these questions, which suggests that information management is not yet a priority. Moreover, fewer respondents report that their organizations are implementing strategies for improving information flow (27 percent). The sector also has the highest percentage of respondents who report having no strategy (17 percent). HEALTHCARE SECTOR LAGS IN IMPLEMENTING INFORMATION FLOW STRATEGY Does your organization have a strategy for improving the flow of information across geographies, departments, and lines of business? (% respondents) Healthcare Retail banks Public sector Manufacturing We are implementing a strategy now 27% 30% 31% 32% We are planning to implement a strategy within the next year 13% 10% 16% 12% We are currently changing (or planning to change) our strategy 20% 10% 27% 21% We do not need to change our strategy 14% 25% 12% 21% We do not have a strategy 17% 14% 12% 11% Don’t know/Not applicable 19% 11% 12% 12% Source: Economist Intelligence Unit, June 20106
  7. 7. Regulation is at the heart of information strategiesAlthough the healthcare sector is less confident about information management, survey respondents clearlyunderstand the impact of changing regulations. They rank compliance with legal, regulatory, and internalgovernance standards as the prime driver of their information strategy today (51 percent—much higherthan any other sector). The sector also stands out in emphasizing the need to control information based onlegal concerns such as privacy and security (37 percent), and to improve records management policies andprocedures (32 percent).Healthcare organizations focus on compliance(Based on % of respondents who chose up to 3 among 12 drivers)Compliance with legal, regulatory, or 51 %internal information governance standardsNeed to control and/or secureinformation based on legal concerns 37 %such as privacy and securityEmployees need the right information at 32 %the right time to do their jobsNeed to improve records management 32 %policies and processesNeed to facilitate collaboration across 28 %departments, functions, and geographiesRegional differences also are striking. In North America, 48 percent of respondents cite records managementas a prime driver compared with 17 percent in other regions—certainly a reflection of the current focus onelectronic medical records in the United States.Current pressures are viewed as short-term concerns. In three years, the drivers of information strategies inthe healthcare sector are likely to be more aligned with those of other sectors: employee effectiveness andproductivity.Better patient outcomes is top benefitHealthcare organizations have a unique mission. Whether for profit or nonprofit, their purpose is to care forthe sick. Not surprisingly, respondents cite better patient outcomes (26 percent) as the top benefit of managinginformation. Improved service to customers and faster problem-solving (25 percent each) are not far behind.Here, too, regional differences are significant. Respondents in North America rank improved service tocustomers and more efficient information exchange with other providers (28 percent each) as the topbenefits. In other regions, these rank third and fifth respectively. This is another reflection of the current U.S.preoccupation with healthcare modernization.Healthcare is a leader in information securityHealthcare organizations are much clearer on the details of their information security strategies than on thoseof their information flow strategies. Such clarity results from stringent regulations on privacy and security ofinformation—especially patient data—and suggests that the sector both values information security and is aleader in implementing it.SummaryEnsuring privacy and maintaining security will always be essential mandates for organizations in the healthcaresector, but those two directives are not the whole story. Not only must these organizations meet today’sevolving regulatory requirements, but they must also focus on results, promoting the best health outcomesfor their patients while making their own organization more efficient and safeguarding its financial strength.Effective information management strategies should help healthcare organizations meet both goals—improvingperformance while complying with regulatory demands. 7
  8. 8. HP conclusion Many governments are looking to electronic health records as “the cure” for the healthcare sector’s woes. But that “cure” is not just about converting paper-based health records to electronic ones. It is about moving the entire health ecosystem to the digital age, making a patient’s entire health record available at the point of care anywhere in the world, and personalizing care plans and wellness educational materials for each patient. HP is taking a leadership role in this endeavor: six of the top ten healthcare providers use HP Exstream software to produce personalized explanation-of-benefits documents. Providers use HP Exstream to leverage patient health data from multiple departments (radiology, cardiology, laboratory, pathology, surgery, physical therapy, and others)—each running disparate applications, databases, and hardware platforms—and then to aggregate this data into a very professional, personalized health record that’s available anywhere, any time. But as governments lead healthcare organizations down the path of personalized medicine, these organizations are encountering serious patient privacy issues. Governments are strengthening privacy regulations so that only direct caregivers and authorized individuals may view patient health records. In many countries, credentialing and authorization rights need to be set for healthcare employees. Audit logs of everyone who accesses, views, prints, scans, and transmits protected health information at the application, workstation, and printer are often mandatory. HP is a leader in delivering security solutions such as HP Access Control that protect data in motion, data at rest, and data in use. Creating a healthcare environment and ecosystem that delivers improved patient care, lowers costs, and fosters an informed and accountable patient is an effort that requires collaboration among patients, caregivers, insurance payers, and the government. HP healthcare solutions are the foundation for a new collaborative health system. From the cloud network infrastructure that links applications together to a demand-driven mobile computing environment, HP offers a complete, end-to-end solution. To learn more, contact Randy Hickel at learn more, visit© Copyright 2010 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. The information contained herein is subject tochange without notice. The only warranties for HP products and services are set forth in the express warrantystatements accompanying such products and services. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting anadditional warranty. HP shall not be liable for technical or editorial errors or omissions contained herein.4AA3-1714ENW, Created October 2010