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Outsourcing development can ease the talent shortage

At the Gartner Catalyst conference in San Diego, Stephen Wheat, chief IT architect at Emory Healthcare, Georgia’s largest healthcare plan, got it right. To get cloud and mobile app development done within a reasonable time frame, the job is often outsourced to qualified partners.

One of the more articulate IT chiefs I’ve heard in a long time said it’s really pretty simple: His group identified three “preferred partners” for most application development. While a few projects will be implemented with internal resources, “most future projects will go to these external developers.” Of course, these developers aren’t just anyone. While they clearly have expertise in cloud and mobile, they also have proven themselves when it comes to compliance and governance. In a word, HIPAA.

What’s also shrewd is that Wheat uses different review and deployment models for apps that are public-facing or those for use only by employees on the inside. Why? Because a multitude of aspects differ for internal and external apps. These include trade dress and branding, legal, compliance and regulatory, communications, and more.

It gets even more interesting. Emory Healthcare currently counts 21,678 mobile devices on its network. Amazingly, 99.5% percent of them are bring-your-own devices (BYOD). Fewer than 200 mobile devices are actually are actually managed by Emory. The app portfolio is about 60 strong, with more on the way. These include simple apps for finding one’s way around the facilities, to 3D imaging apps that help surgeons with highly complicated liver surgery. Designers take into account not just security issues, but, “security that’s relevant to consumers,” Wheat says. What that means is that, for example, epilepsy patients may not have the motor skills to navigate through sign-on and authentication procedures that you and I take for granted.

You can learn more about Emory’s IT architecture. It’s a fascinating read.

What are your priorities when it comes to app development and getting the product out the door? Are you willing to hire outside help?