In a recent post on HISTalk, Mr. H is in rare form as he offers some commentary on what happens when a large hospital takes over a small hospital. I hope we get to see more posts like this in the future from him.
Re: our little hospital. News of a potential affiliation with a much larger organization broke out last week. Should I be nervous? How do these things typically go?” I’ve been through the process a couple of times from the big hospital IT side of the table, so here’s my experience in a nutshell, which may or may not be representative (OK, it might be a little bit tongue in cheek):
- The big hospital sends its mid-level managers, who make twice as much as your highest paid person, to snoop around and try unsuccessfully to hide their contempt of your comparatively simple but more effective operation.
- They say they are there to learn and assist, but in reality they are thinking, “How fast can we rip out their stuff and replace it with products that we already know and therefore are less of a pain for us to support, no matter what users prefer?”
- The systems they want to put in your hospital are more complicated, partly because big hospitals like big, complicated products, but also because big hospitals have big egos and manage to make everything 10 times harder than it needs to be because all kinds of job-paranoid mid-level IT managers are always trying to justify their existence by increasing the level of specialization and complexity wherever possible.
- Every decision is made on the basis of which option presents the least risk to the IT organization. Risk means anything that could require more employees, increase help desk calls, or put the bonuses of the top IT executives in jeopardy.
- Any semblance of being a friendly, well-respected IT operation goes down the tubes as the new suits insist that nobody can talk to anybody without a help desk ticket, IT employees aren’t allowed to solve problems or make changes without reams of documentation, and vigorously enforced PC policies ensure that everybody except executives in IT and Finance are using the same hardware and software that has been dumbed down and locked down so that the lowest level employee in dietary or facilities maintenance can’t do anything that might require a help desk call. Think of this as computer socialism.
- Endless meetings will be held in which nobody in the room has the authority to make a decision, but everybody is empowered to veto someone else’s recommendation or insist that the issue be studied further with even more people invited to the table. The chairs in conference rooms never have time to get cold before the next set of IT posteriors land on them.
- You will for the first time see ambitious, back-stabbing IT managers trying to distance themselves from their humble programmer or networking origins by wearing a suit at all times and riding herd on their tiny fiefdoms like they are Steve Jobs, except without the charm, vision, passion, and brains.
- On the other hand, you will probably get better benefits and possibly a raise, at least as long as your job isn’t too closely identified with one of the systems that will be unceremoniously dumped, in which case you may find yourself attached to it. You may not be able to look users in the eye, but your career prospects may improve because of better training, exposure to systems for which experts are needed, and a more recognizable employer name on your resume. If you are lucky, you may even get to stay on the periphery and avoid the soul-sucking part of the IT organization entirely. You’ll also realize that it’s not just IT described above – pretty much all big-hospital departments stack up to their small-hospital counterparts in exactly the same way.