Too far ahead of the IT curve?
Peachtree Healthcare has major IT infrastructure problems, and CEO Max Berndt is struggling to find the right fix. He can go with a single set of systems and applications that will provide consistency across Peachtree's facilities but may not give doctors enough flexibility. Or he can choose service-oriented architecture (SOA), a modular design that will allow Peachtree to standardize incrementally and selectively but poses certain risks as a newer technology. What should he do? Four experts comment on this fictional case study, authored by John P. Glaser, CIO for Partners HealthCare System. George C. Halvorson, the chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente, warns against using untested methodologies such as SOA in a health care environment, where lives are at stake. He says Peachtree's management must clarify its overall IT vision before devising a plan to achieve each of its objectives. Monte Ford, the chief information officer at American Airlines, says Peachtree can gradually replace its old systems with SOA. An incremental approach, he points out, would not only minimize risk but also enhance flexibility and control, and would allow IT to shift priorities along the way. Randy Heffner, a vice president at Forrester Research who focuses on technology architectures for computer-based business systems, thinks SOA's modular approach to business design would best meet Peachtree's need for flexibility. He says that Peachtree's CIO sees SOA as a new product category but should instead view it as a methodology. John A. Kastor, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, questions the goal of standardized care. He argues that it would be difficult to persuade doctors, many of whom are fiercely independent, to follow rigid patterns in their work.
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