Sorting Through the Technology Clutter

Think about what picture could go with this caption: “The storytelling industry has endured many waves of disruptive technology.”

The picture was published in the April issue of Fast Company magazine. The second sentence reads: “Here, director Martin Scorsese demos his embrace of 3-D movies.” The photograph shows Scorsese sporting a pair of paper 3-D glasses. I thought this was a clever characterization of the “industry” and found myself thinking about the degree to which we apply technology to get back to an original experience, in this case, the face-to-face exchange. When I queried my 24-year-old son, he guessed the picture was of a video game where an individual is actually participating in the story.

Not nearly as creative, in my opinion, but interesting in their own right were the results of the Ponemon Institute study stating that “Hospitals lose $8.3 billion using old technology” and the analysis by MarketsandMarkets stating the “Global healthcare IT market estimated to reach $56.7B by 2017.” The correlation is clear on the surface, but I am concerned over the market reaction that I am seeing. We already have far too many point solutions (applications that do one specific thing), and more are entering the market every day. The old light bulb joke applies here: How many applications does it take to run a supply chain? Answer: One for transactions and 42 to cover the remaining strategic needs.

I have used the term “endeavor to one” as a mantra to keep reduction of variability (aka standardization) a top-of-mind priority. I believe that it applies to technology as well as to supplies. We enjoy a development partnership with ROi through which we are creating solutions that fill technology gaps and reduce the number of applications that are required to perform certain functions. The Ponemon study draws attention to inefficiencies resulting from restrictions in old-technology functionality. True enough, but I also believe that the inefficiencies inherent in using multiple point solutions, with multiple taxonomies, user interfaces, report writers and security rights, will also contribute mightily to the problem as new technologies are adopted.

To avoid contributing to the point solution issue, Optimé has adopted a Platform as a Service (PaaS) approach. I believe that we are the first to do so in the healthcare supply chain space. PaaS is basically the ability to leverage a single platform and an inventory of modules to configure software solutions to solve multiple technological needs. An analogy would be the smartphone as the platform and downloaded apps as the modules. The phone serves multiple functions. We don’t need a watch, a calendar, an alarm clock, an MP3, even books. Utilizing a single platform and configuring modules to address multiple needs reduces training, adoption and maintenance time, smoothes out the user workflow, provides a common user interface and, perhaps most importantly, operates on a standard data set (the last thing we need in our industry is more variation in data).

But enough about us and on to this issue, in which guest contributor Nick Gaich and our own Fred Crans write on a subject on which they are both passionate – mentoring. I’ve signed up as a mentee under each of them; Grandpa Nick is going to help me grow old gracefully and Fred is going to help me retain mounds of information to use as analogies in future articles. Enjoy.

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