Case Study

National Healthcare System: Enterprise Architecture Strategy

Large nonprofit health system applies modern approach to enterprise architecture to set a strategic direction for IT investments

As organizations shift their digital strategies to get more out of their IT investments, health systems face unique challenges. Cutting-edge technology offers a new level of modernization in many other industries, but stringent regulation, patient privacy and deeply embedded legacy platforms create high barriers to change for healthcare organizations specifically.

Large hospital systems, in particular, may acquire and divest facilities frequently, leading to a complex and unwieldy IT landscape. This growth in technology entropy eventually leads to frustrated physicians and nonoptimal care for patients as a whole.

LACK OF STRATEGIC DIRECTION

One national hospital system faced these challenges. IT leadership lacked a systematic framework to set strategic direction and drive transformational change throughout the enterprise. Without an external compass point to drive toward, the customer’s information systems were growing in complexity, making it impossible to meet the ever-changing needs of physicians and patients.

Moreover, outside technology vendors were dictating enterprise standards, rather than the organization creating and facilitating its own vision to then leverage the right vendors. The hospital system needed a way to measure new technology proposals against their desired future state.

AN ENTERPRISE ARCHITECTURE FRAMEWORK

We applied our modern approach to enterprise architecture to build a principle-driven strategy.

While this approach is rooted in the fundamentals of TOGAF®, it relentlessly focuses on human elements, such as cross-functional collaboration and the creation of consumable and accessible artifacts.

Before creating needed artifacts, we first had to bring together several siloed teams across business, data, applications and technology units to collectively build a strategic direction for the enterprise. A team of WWT’s Management Consultants and Enterprise Architects led this process. They used ideation, breakout sessions and interviews to systematically gather information about the organization’s strengths and weaknesses.

In conjunction with the customer’s enterprise architecture team, artifacts then were authored and disseminated across the greater organization on an internal website. The team helped devise a governance structure to officially ratify the artifacts created in order for them to hold the weight of policy. Overall, a trusted process was created to curate the collective mind-share of the organization and drive a cohesive vision for the future.

Artifacts included:

  • Architecture principles – Timeless set of guideposts that all downstream artifacts must adhere to
  • Domain mapping – Logical view of the enterprise’s business capabilities and technology enablers
  • Strategies – Documentation of the organization’s direction in a specific domain that includes key decisions and future capabilities
  • Roadmaps – Sequence of work units that need to be completed in order to realize the future capabilities outlined in the strategies
  • Reference architectures – High-level designs associated with future capabilities within a domain that gives an overall vision of the given strategy
  • Models and meta-models – Logical graphs depicting process flows, mappings and dependencies of the collective enterprise architecture

EXECUTE ON TECHNOLOGY INITIATIVES

We helped create a decision-making framework that ensured the enterprise’s technology investmentswere constantly driving towards their stated future vision. The customer now has the strategic direction in place to guide vendors to adhere to their set standards, rather than allowing their strategy to be dictated by vendors.

The customer benefited immensely from having the collective mind-share of the organization documented in a cohesive and digestible format. This has allowed for technology decisions that meet the business needs of the physicians and patients in a more timely and seamless manner.

For example, end-user enablement and access control strategies have set the stage for the customer to adopt a holistic approach to username and password use. The goal is to streamline account management for physicians and allow them to save valuable time when signing into the multiple applications they need. This will also put a streamlined process in place for normalizing accounts when a hospital is acquired or divested.

Similarly, a workload location strategy has set a data center consolidation initiative in motion and outlined a clear preference for renting facilities (colocation) and workloads (public cloud) where appropriate. Having this preference down on paper and ratified by the governance process has led to an initiative within the finance team: to move to a more OpEx-focused technology investment approach, rather than their current CapEx model.

Ultimately, the strategies and roadmaps put in place by WWT will help prioritize budgeting of transformational projects and can lead to an Operational Readiness Assessment, along with other lab services. This prepares the customer and in turn, our engineers, to deploy and execute on their technology initiatives.

For more information about WWT’s approach to enterprise architecture, check out this article from Senior Engagement Manager Yoni Malchi.