In an analysis of why IT systems fail, Network World author Mike Karp points to “institutional inertia”. In short, he says, “Things don’t change unless they have to.” Instead of applying technology to real-life needs, sometimes people create workarounds. Human nature: It’s always easier to keep your stick in the mud.
But do workarounds get you where you need to be? Of course not. Our healthcare customers—food service directors and CIOs in hospitals— tell us every day that where we need to be is ever more challenging. Between regulations, HIPAA, standards compliance, the race for patient satisfaction, and ongoing scrutiny of patient safety in hospitals, workarounds just don’t cut it.
So what’s keeping the stick in the mud? Three things:
- Ignorance. Traditionally, hospital food service was a break-even department, a necessary evil. Food service directors have to articulate the case for automated nutrition care to anyone who still believes that the department is “just kitchen stuff” and has no impact on patient safety and Press Ganey scores.
- Capital budget. Knowing you need to implement technology for patient safety and food service management in your hospital doesn’t mean the money will appear. The reality is that hospital budgets are squeezed. You need a creative answer, such as a no/low-investment SaaS solution where you pay as you go.
- Data hoarding. If any department in your hospital houses data you need for nutritional care—and it’s not appearing in your software system automatically—that’s hoarding. CIOs and CEOs need to stand back and ask the obvious questions: How much does it cost to transfer this data through manual systems? What’s the risk for critical errors when we re-keyboard or manually track data? What are the time lags and what can go wrong in that interim? What’s the patient safety risk if we never pass along the data? Data… meaning: diet orders, medication protocols, enteral feeding orders, food allergy alerts, meal patterns, even simple things like patient identities and ADTs.
Granted, that stick may be stuck pretty deep in the mud. We believe it takes a partnership with a dedicated and experienced software vendor—in the healthcare industry—to yank it out. Adaptation, innovation, and the ability to change are characteristics of the growth culture, essential to the sheer survival of healthcare today. Get your gloves on. In the words of Rosabeth Moss Kanter, “Leaders must wake people out of inertia.”