Guest post by Ed Simcox, healthcare business leader, Logicalis US.
Healthcare is undergoing a significant transformation today, and so is healthcare IT. As a result, healthcare providers and their IT departments need to brace themselves for change – which is happening faster than they might realize – in five business-critical areas: healthcare IT infrastructure, mobility and BYOD, business continuity and disaster recovery, storage and vendor-neutral archives, and patient portals and mobile applications.
With pressure mounting to meet new regulatory requirements and ICD-10 deadlines, as well as the increased demands being placed on IT departments for interactive communications among patients, providers, and payers, healthcare CIOs need a set of “best practices” to help them navigate this IT transformation and arrive at the data-driven, value-based future of healthcare from where they stand today.
We call this IT transformation a “journey” because it isn’t something that happens overnight. This is a multi-stage process requiring significant evaluation of not only IT systems, but also of what the future workflows and business processes will be and how healthcare providers, patients and payers can all seamlessly share time-critical data. It’s a journey that is taking healthcare IT to the new levels of IT sophistication needed to support a substantial business change from volume to value, and there are five important milestones that every healthcare IT department is going to have to tackle along the way.
HIT Infrastructure — Of all the technical capabilities healthcare IT professionals are being asked to master today, the key is an ability to rapidly adapt to change. As a more technology-oriented generation of doctors and tech-savvy patients take their place in healthcare’s future, IT is going to be drawn increasingly into the actual delivery of health services. As a result, healthcare IT professionals won’t be spending the bulk of their time caring for their IT infrastructures. The good news is that if the IT infrastructure is transformed from today’s siloed systems into a virtualized, automated IT-as-a-Service resource, then the IT department will be able to focus its efforts directly on using technology to help doctors and nurses care for their patients and allowing patients to electronically manage their own care and wellness.
Mobility and BYOD — Today’s clinicians and patients are bringing their smartphones, tablets and other devices into the healthcare environment. Providing a health system with secure, high-performance mobility improves overall productivity and helps clinicians deliver quality, evidence-based healthcare at the point of care. The key is to be able to support multiple devices and platforms securely and seamlessly while ensuring patient confidentiality, 24x7x365 availability, and simplified infrastructure management.
Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery (DR) — Healthcare organizations must now support an always-on, always available business model. They need cost-effective and resilient solutions that include backup, archiving, DR and business continuity capable of covering complex operations such as large hospital campuses, multiple clinics and remote locations. DR solutions must ensure instant access to critical electronic health records (EHR), including medical records and images, and be performance-intensive while also meeting flexibility, scalability and legal/compliance requirements. DR-as-a-Service is one way to achieve DR best practices in a healthcare environment.
Storage and Vendor-Neutral Archive (VNA) — HIT generates enormous amounts of data and images that need to be managed, protected and accessible. Whether a CIO is looking to consolidate and modernize storage to reduce cost and support requirements, or looking for specific solutions for medical imaging, a vendor-neutral archive (VNA) may be the answer. VNA solutions can offer an enterprise data repository for images and other non-transactional data that serve multiple clinical applications including picture archiving and communication systems (PACS), EHRs, patient and physician portals, health information exchanges, and more. With a centralized archive, clinicians can securely add, access and share relevant patient information across the enterprise for more collaborative diagnoses and treatment plans.
Patient Portals/Mobile Applications — To meet meaningful use Stage 2 requirements and receive federal incentives, today’s healthcare providers must not only offer patient portals, but they must also get patients to use them. Healthcare patient portals and mobile applications allow patients to securely interact and communicate with healthcare providers anytime, and from any device, without sacrificing their privacy. Feature-rich patient portals can be deployed as standalone websites, integrated with a healthcare organization’s existing website, or as add-ons to the EHR provider’s patient portal application. No matter how they’re deployed, patient portals and mobile applications increase patient engagement by providing secure online access to their healthcare data.
New rules and regulations are going to set the pace for continued and accelerated change whether you’re ready or not. There are many incremental steps to a healthcare system’s IT transformation; the key is to set a course and follow the roadmap along the way.
Ed Simcox is the healthcare business leader for Logicalis US. For more information, Ed recommends reading an eBook, “Healthcare IT’s Transformation Journey,” downloadable here: http://www.us.logicalis.com/healthcareit/.