The new system, which is still in pilot, has a sexier acronym than name--Next Information Technology for Retail Operations, or NITRO--but the real excitement comes from what it enables. NITRO, which combines more than 35 data feeds about parts, service and tires into a single system that sales associates access via a cloud-based HTML5 touch-screen application, has already boosted overall sales by 5 to 15 percent. The reason: Associates only have to type in the vehicle identification number to get a display of exactly what parts it needs and what's in stock and available to sell.
"Our associates are using the system to promote a wider array of vehicle maintenance services than just tire replacement," Smith says. "They literally show the customer a graphical schematic of their vehicle, complete with the maintenance history and service recommendations based on manufacturer-provided guidelines."
The application guides associates through the entire process. This makes sure they can't get anything wrong--creating greater trust with the customers--and also makes them more efficient. The more efficient they are, the more sales they do each day. And with each sale coming in at a higher return, revenue should keep growing as the system is rolled out across the company. (See more about NITRO in " Work with Sales to Create Sales Solutions.")
Selling Homegrown Tech
Sales, however, are not the goal at Christiana Care Health System--it's improving patient care and regulatory compliance, says CIO Randy Gaboriault. But some of the healthcare IT advances developed at the hospital can be packaged up and offered to other hospitals. For example, Christiana Care created a telemedicine command center for intensive care units (ICU). This improves patient care by having experienced doctors and nurses remotely monitoring multiple ICU patients and taking fast action when life-threatening symptoms occur. As a bonus, it also generates revenue. Christiana Care brought in tens of millions of dollars in the last year by selling eCare ICU and other telemedicine services to fellow hospitals, the company says.
To become a revenue-generator like this, you must separate core processes from the ones that could be key competitive differentiators, Gaboriault says. Improving the billing process, for example, is important, but in an industry with such tight margins, it's the services that will get a patient a quicker response and treatment that will make a competitive difference to a teaching hospital like Christiana Care.
"There's not a magic way of saying we're going to drive business, but it's IT's job to take the business goal and translate it into what could differentiate what we offer from everyone else," Gaboriault says.
IT is also helping Christiana Care win federal grants for healthcare reform. In June, the hospital won a $10 million grant from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to create a model for coordinating care of patients who have been discharged from hospitals after a cardiac event. A key step is consolidating the information that is collected and created about each patient, and making it possible for that information to travel with the person. Gaboriault, who is at the forefront of this effort as the chair of the Delaware Health Information Network, says the results could be turned into additional products and used across the United States.
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