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Not long ago we spoke with Mr. Gardner Wright, CIO for Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Georgia (BCBS) and asked his perspective on building a useable information technology strategy.
We first asked Gardner for his take on the most important components of an IT strategic plan. He listed three:
For example, Gardner explained that at BCBS the differentiators they are focusing on include
1) improving electronic commerce with their trading partners, and 2) electronic connectivity to their customers (health plan members, that is).
He elaborated, "Being able to extend the provision of healthcare into the home is key for a managed care organization, as well as for other providers of health care. We have to move more to what is taking place in the home population, where the population is aging and everybody is more comfortable."
Specifically, Gardner described medical monitoring and tele-medicine as activities which would not typically be considered e-commerce, but are very important to his organization. These would allow more services to be delivered directly to members in their homes.
Interestingly, this trend in the healthcare industry is reflective of the overall trend in e-commerce: to drive customer service delivery further down the distribution chain, thus reducing costs, errors, and time for the service provider.
"Being able to extend the provision of healthcare into the home is key..."
Gardner did have a few words of warning for other senior executives conducting a
review of IT strategy. He listed two major issues to keep in mind.
First, be aware of the shortened business cycle. Specifically, keep the IT plan and business plan on a timetable which meets the demands of today's quick-to-market environment. He explained, "The traditional three to five year corporate plan is very difficult to work with these days. Frankly, IS has not traditionally been quick to market and while development cycles are getting shorter, they are still longer than required for today's speed-conscious demands."
Second, be aware of the major difficulties caused by the Year 2000 (Y2K) issue. At his organization, Gardner expects this to consume major IT resources through the next year. He explained, "We are an aggressive, for-profit health plan. But still, from a systems development standpoint, there is lots that has to be done on Y2K. At the same time we're trying to support the growth of the business and add systems to help connect better with our brokers, our providers, and our
members. Add to this the on-going need to implement and change the underlying infrastructures in the corporation, not only from an IT perspective, but from an organizational process on the business side."
"Frankly, IS has not traditionally been quick to market..."
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