by Patrick Keenan

Challenge

Since opening its doors in 1962 as the world’s first outpatient dialysis treatment center, Northwest Kidney Centers (NKC) continues to be one of the nation’s leading independent kidney dialysis organizations. NKC recently developed a corporate strategic plan to guide its operations going forward—including a key strategy to “support the patient care continuum through information technology.” NKC leadership engaged Point B to develop a comprehensive IT vision and strategy, along with a roadmap to guide their actions in support of NKC’s mission and strategic goals. 

IT strategy on a mission  

What would a winning new IT strategy look like to NKC—a non-profit health organization with a strong patient-centered mission?

Using our strategic development methodology, we assessed NKC’s current IT infrastructure, service management processes, documentation, and services and resources. We also conducted 33 interviews with senior leadership, IT core team members, diverse stakeholders, physicians and external partners. These one-to-one interviews were crucial to understanding the current state and desired future state.

We worked with NKC leadership to analyze the gap between IT vision and IT reality. Based on this analysis, we jointly developed an IT strategy and roadmap that gives NKC a clear path to achieve it, together with high-level action plans that incorporate performance measures and IT best practices. We presented our recommendations in an A3—a lean tool that articulates NKC’s Information Services Vision and Strategy on a single page. The A3 tells a story that’s easily shared across the organization, supports good governance, acts as a useful measurement tool, and aligns the information systems (IS) team to focus on the right things.

Elevating the IT organization

We also made a number of recommendations for supporting NKC’s new IT vision and strategy by establishing: an integrated IT organization and governance structure; EMR requirements for implementing data sharing: and project management capabilities to improve communication and coordination. Together with its new IT steering committee, NKC now has the organizational structure to effectively manage its strategic priorities and its portfolio of IT work in its aim to improve the continuum of patient care.

New ways to think about IT  

Within our 11-week schedule, NKC developed a new IS vision statement—“Easy access to the right information”—driving a clear IT vision and strategy with the roadmap and tools to bring it to life. In the process, internal teams not only began to see new possibilities for IT; they were also organized and equipped to make them happen.