How to convince your boss to make a healthcare communications technology purchase

How do you propose technology to your boss (and get a yes!)?

As the former CIO of Harris Health System, I’ve led countless technology initiatives in a healthcare environment. Part of my role as CIO was to help make technology purchasing decisions that would drive our organization forward. From proposal, to purchase, to rollout and adoption, I’ve witnessed exceptional business cases. Today, I’d like to share some of these actionable insights on how to make a solid business case for a healthcare communications purchase.

What problems are you solving?

When you’re making a business case, it’s key to remember healthcare communications is a strategy—not just a technology. Instead of considering only what the technology can deliver, ensure you have a clear understanding of the problems you’re trying to solve. Do you have communication gaps in your workflows? Are your on-call schedules paper-based or managed without one accessible, central location? Maybe your care teams struggle with phone tag or use consumer apps to fulfill their communication needs.

Based on the problems you’re working to solve, consider if the solution is best as an enterprise solution—one that can be used throughout the organization—or as a department solution. This decision will impact who your stakeholders are and the steps it may take for you to get staff to use the solution.

Learn more about the difference between point vs platform solutions in this infographic

Who makes the decisions?

Though each organization is different, many healthcare systems will have decision-making committees that approve purchases. For example, at Harris Health System I was the chair and process owner for our IT executive governance council. The executive leadership council included the CEO, CFO, CMO, CNE, and the COO.

The purpose of the council was threefold:

  1. Align IT strategy with business objectives
  2. Approve IT investments and related ROI, including an annual plan and quarterly revisions
  3. Oversee execution of strategic initiatives, ensuring IT initiatives achieve their objectives

There were also other IT planning and governance committees across the organization including clinical, ancillary, service lines, regional operations, revenue cycle, financial, supply chain, and HRIS. Each of these operations also have a corresponding IT executive stakeholder for technology input.

Understanding how your technology purchases are made will help you get the support you need to align your solution with the goals of the decision-makers.

Who are the stakeholders?

Identifying your potential stakeholders is an important step to making any business case. Determine how the technology solution could impact each of these potential stakeholders and any benefits they may reap from supporting the implementation. Buying decisions usually require a consensus from these key business partners, and your organization won’t make any purchases with only the considerations of one group.

Potential stakeholders in healthcare communications include your physician organization. These may include your:

  • CMO, chief quality officer, chief of staff, quality manager or director, CMIO, informatics MD

Similarly, you’ll want to identify your nursing organization, including:

  • CNE/CNO, CNIO, nursing quality, nursing practice

When you’re considering a technology solution, it’s imperative to identify your information technology potential stakeholders. Consider all of your IT stakeholders, including:

  • VP or director of clinical information systems, VP or director of ERP systems, infrastructure executive, security executive, Rx systems manager, imaging systems manager, laboratory systems manager

And lastly, your potential administration stakeholders might include:

  • Hospital administrator/CEO/VP, COO, service line executives

Providing use-case solutions

One way to encourage support across the organization is to identify use-case examples that have common stakeholders. For example, technology that impacts clinical process improvement programs may have use case examples showing improvement for hospital/ER throughput, improved discharge times, or diagnostic turnaround time. These use cases may impact the work of stakeholders from a CMO to a quality director to an IT EHR executive.

Clinical programs

Use case examples

Common stakeholders

Clinical process improvement programsHospital/ER throughput

Improved discharge times

Consult/diagnostic turnaround time

Chief medical officer

Chief quality officer

Chief of staff

Hospital administrator

Nursing CNO / CNE

Medical director

Quality manager / director

Informatics (CMIO / CNIO)

IT EHR executive

Hospital-acquired condition reduction programCentral line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI)
Population healthDiabetes


Hypertension (High blood pressure)

Clinical complianceRestraints compliance

Sepsis bundle compliance

Core MeasuresStroke measures (STK)

Venous thromboembolism (VTE)

What’s the return on investment?

When you’re considering a technology solution, there are four return on investment (ROI) dimensions to consider:

  1. Increased revenue: Can your strategy with this technology solution impact your revenue?
  2. Decreased expense: Similarly, will this strategy decrease your expense?
  3. Improved quality and outcomes: How will your strategy impact patient care? Will it lead to better decision-making? Enable faster response time? Provide new insights?
  4. Compliance: Does this technology solution meet or exceed your regulatory and compliance standards?

By developing a clear picture of the problems your proposed solution can solve and who can benefit, you’re already moving from a place of purchasing technology to one of solving challenges and impacting organizational goals. Taking it a step further by providing use-case examples to potential stakeholders will elevate your proposal (and you’ll be one step closer to that all-important “Yes!”)