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Enterprise Architecture Strategy Energizes, Aligns Hospital System

Modern approach to Enterprise Architecture sets strategic direction for IT investments

Enterprise architecture is key

As organizations shift digital strategies to get more out of 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 in healthcare.

Large hospital systems, particularly those that frequently acquire and divest facilities, present a complex and unwieldy IT landscape. Unchecked, the disjointed technological entropy in these systems can lead to frustrated physicians and suboptimal care for patients.

This is particularly true for systems without any sort of Enterprise Architecture strategy.

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 north star to unite and align initiatives, the customer’s information systems were growing in complexity, making it impossible to keep up with the changing needs of physicians and patients.

Moreover, instead creating and facilitating its own vision before engaging third parties, the customer had allowed outside technology vendors to dictate enterprise standards.

The hospital system needed a way to measure new technology proposals against their desired future state. They approached WWT for guidance.

A new framework

We applied our modern approach to Enterprise Architecture to build a principle-driven strategy for the customer.

While this approach is rooted in the fundamentals of TOGAF®, it relentlessly focuses on human elements like 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 customer’s strengths and weaknesses.

In conjunction with the customer’s Enterprise Architecture team, artifacts were authored and disseminated across the greater organization on an internal website. We helped devise a governance structure to officially ratify the artifacts created so they held the weight of policy.

Overall, a trusted process was created to curate the collective mindshare of the hospital system 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 to be completed 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.

Alignment and execution

We helped create a decision-making framework that ensured all enterprise technology investments were constantly driving towards the customer's 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 has benefited immensely from having its collective organizational strategy documented in a cohesive and digestible format. It has enabled the hospital system to make technology decisions that meet the needs of 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 the budgeting of transformational projects. Prior to embarking on these types of projects, the customer knows they can leverage our expertise through an Operational Readiness Assessment or other services to determine if they have the proper infrastructure and resources to proceed with and execute on such initiatives.