How Banner Health aligns IT, business goals

Increasingly, hospital IT leaders are being asked to bring business acumen to their technology-driven jobs, according to Banner Health Vice President of IT and CIO Ryan Smith.

Smith shared his experiences aligning business and IT goals this week at the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives annual fall meeting in Phoenix, Healthcare Informatics reports. The Phoenix-based integrated health system’s operational model, which focuses heavily on cutting waste and costs, ultimately drives all efforts, he said.

“It’s designed to achieve results,” Smith said. “There is great alignment at Banner how we think about strategies from senior leaders and board members. And with that, comes great opportunity.”

IT and business leaders will collaborate on efforts with one another, which Smith referred to as a “dyad” partnership. “They are co-responsible for developing and communicating strategies, planning and strategy execution,” Smith said. “I coach my team to let that business or clinical champion run the meeting, and be the face whenever possible.”

Smith and Banner aren’t alone in terms of recognizing the synergy between IT and business efforts. In an interview with FierceHealthIT earlier this year, David Chou, VP and CIO at Kansas City, Missouri-based Children’s Mercy Hospital, discussed how his job, and the role of many other CIOs in healthcare, continues to evolve to include business decisions.

“My role is to provide business value through the use of technology,” Chou said. “How can I improve the physicians’ lives? How can I help the organization generate more revenue while creating a better experience for everyone who enters the building?”

Last fall, Jim Utterback, then a principle with executive search firm Witt/Kieffer, expressed a similar sentiment to FierceHealthIT, saying that today’s CIOs must understand business processes and reengineering. “A lot of these guys will lead operational efficiency Lean programs and use Six Sigma tools to drive improved efficiency, quality and workflow,” Utterback said. “And they’re doing it in an environment where oftentimes, the checkbook isn’t wide open.”