The customer is always right, and the business is IT's customer. This philosophy is the beginning of a slippery slope. In healthcare the patients and physicians are the hospital's customers. The hospital is to serve the community. The Medical Informatics Director is a colleague, not a customer. If you would like your information technology department to evolve from the tactical implementer to strategic partner, it is time to enable alignment and become colleagues with your customers.
Before you begin to question whether we have lost our customer service attitude and perspective, this is an evolutionary growth which needs to take place in today's healthcare it environment. Having a customer mentality draws an unwilling divide between organizational departments. It is a separation and partitioning which ultimately results in struggling for alignment and participation with the business. It also brings about the idea of our colleagues needing to manage us, just as they would with vendor relationships. As with managing vendor relationships, there is a mentality to deliver upon every request but its going to cost some money and time. This is not well received our peers and within the information technology department it enables a mentality to deliver upon each and every request. This perspective eventually adds brittleness to your infrastructure and application portfolio. Additionally our peers begin to develop an attitude of entitlement for whatever wish comes to mind. This is far from the mentality and culture of a partnership, with careful leadership the culture can be great at service, and in some places service is needed and desirable, however it only enhance when you take the perspective of colleague.
Let's take the evolutionary view, when we begin to change the customer perspective with colleague. IT becomes one with the business, and places the accountability upon itself to learn the business of healthcare. Everyone should understand clinicians and their roles, be aware of what the joint commission is, and what it is like on the floors for nurses. There should be a common understanding of patient accounting, ar days, self-pay, and claims processing. Additionally it start to establish a peer relationship with your colleagues. Having a good understanding of the business of healthcare will help in addressing a business problem with a good enough solution instead of overly engineered. Or a route to achieve and drive towards the outcome desired which comes after the infrastructure has been upgrade and the system implemented. It will help position support to develop and fine tune the solution.
Be proud of what your information technology department can do! Take the opportunity to develop a culture shift towards growing your customer service attitude with the perspective of a colleague.