"How Open Are the Local Hospitals to Technology?"

"How open are the local hospitals to technology?"    I was speaking with a young lady seeking a tech position in Atlanta.  I wasn't quite sure how to answer her.  That's kind of like asking, "Are dog-lovers happy people?"  Being a dog-lover and being happy can be related, but happiness is more complex than whether or not you have to buy anti-flea powder.  Just as there are multiple factors that feed into happiness, there are multiple elements that go into hospitals' receptivity to emerging technology.


As I’ve thought about it, I see two major factors that contribute to the answer:


  • A hospital's position on Maslow's hierarchy on needs scale.  You may remember from Psychology 101 that psychologist Abraham Maslow theorized that individuals' attitudes toward life are largely determined by how close to sheer survival they live.  His five needs levels (starting with the most basic and moving up) are physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.  People seldom seek self-actualization if they are starving to death.


    Of course, Maslow's hierarchy is designed to assess individuals, but I think the concept also applies to hospitals.  Titanic shifts over the last 20 years in the way hospitals are paid have created enormous stresses in the industry.  Every hospital's circumstances (location, strength of medical staff, payer mix, demographics, leadership team, etc.) are different.  The resulting position places each hospital at a different point on the "survival" scale.  Some are blessed with good circumstances and strong leadership.  Others are more challenged.  As you might expect, the closer to "self-actualization" a hospital is, the more flexibility they have to pursue things some might considered "luxurious."  (Personally, I see adoption of emerging, disruptive technology as an absolute must and not a luxury, but that's a topic for another blog.)


  • The internal attitude of key leadership.  The other factor is how much hospital leadership (executives, physicians, board members, staff, etc.) "get" technology.  That is all over the map.  It's tempting to think of this in generational terms ("the old guys don't understand it but the millenials do").  Although there is some truth to that, it's a bit simplistic.  I know exceptions at both ends of the age spectrum.


    Each organization has a mix of leadership and staff along the continuum of excitement over technology.  Sometimes the internal champions come from surprising places, both age-wise and regarding position in the organization.


    Consequently, it's hard to make a blanket statement about how attuned Atlanta’s hospital leaders are to tech.


    So, how open are individual hospitals to technology?  In classic 2x2 analysis, think of hospitals in one of four buckets:


  • Resource-rich hospitals with enthusiastic leadership

  • Resource-rich hospitals with less engaged leadership

  • Financially challenged hospitals with enthusiastic leadership

  • Financially challenged hospitals with less engaged leadership


    Of course, the "easiest" targets are the first group, but identifying them only happens through research and individual interaction. 


    So, once again, how open are area hospitals to emerging technology?  Without weaseling out of the answer, let me just say, "It depends."  The good news, though, is the number of enthusiasts is growing.