Robust Data Networks Can Help Support Meaningful Use

Alex Soumbeniotis Sewell
Alexandra Sewell

Guest post by Alexandra Sewell, executive director, enterprise marketing, Comcast Business.

Meaningful use is one of the largest drivers of healthcare IT, with the potential for far-reaching effects. Many healthcare organizations are well on their way to achieving meaningful use, working through related cost, training and resource challenges.

But there is still work to be done. Meaningful use can require significant network infrastructure investment to support electronic health records (EHRs) and other technologies. At the same time, budgets are shrinking, so providers must be strategic about how they allocate IT dollars.

Improving Patient Outcomes

EHRs give doctors a complete view of the patient — from demographics and vital signs to medications, allergies and more. EHRs are a central component to complying with meaningful use Stage 1 requirements and help doctors easily view and transmit records, which can lead to more accurate patient diagnosis and treatment.

Hospitals with EHR systems can better capture data regarding patients’ co-morbidities and other risks. This helps clinicians manage patients, resulting in more positive clinical outcomes and improving mortality rates for heart attack, respiratory failure, and lower intestine surgery. EHRs can help improve the overall quality of patient care.

Integrating PACS

Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) technology provides economical storage and convenient access to a range of images from multiple imaging devices, transmitting them digitally and eliminating the need to manually file, retrieve or transport film jackets.

To comply with Stage 2 of meaningful use, healthcare providers must offer patients the ability to view, transmit, and download their health information. And while not explicitly mandated by meaningful use core objectives, many organizations are integrating their PACS and EHR systems so images, such as MRIs and CT scans, can be shared between physicians and with patients through patient portals. However, the size and volume of these imaging files place stress on hospital networks, creating data capacity and data center connectivity issues.

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Unified Network Infrastructure Across Multiple Locations Enables Continuity of Patient Care

Alexandra Sewell
Alexandra Sewell

Guest post by Alexandra Sewell, executive director, emerging markets, Comcast Business.

As the healthcare industry moves through 2014 and begins planning for 2015, several trends continue to dominate the healthcare IT landscape. Healthcare organizations are grappling with the explosion of Big Data and implementing strategies to achieve varying stages of meaningful use. The industry is working toward interoperability, mobility and improving data security – all while looking to control costs and provide quality care.

New healthcare technologies hold great promise to improve both access to and quality of care, but they are in varying stages of adoption and federal approvals. This is leaving healthcare organizations and their IT directors searching for flexible solutions that can address current and future technologies.

Unfortunately, the industry’s approach to how technology is sourced, implemented and integrated as a business strategy is fractured. Many vendors offer different approaches to today’s healthcare technology challenges, but very few offer total solutions.

With that said, some technology is taking hold, such as digital hospital rooms, virtual medicine kiosks and mobile e-health devices, which allow physicians and other clinicians to monitor, diagnose and treat patients from remote locations. PACS imaging, electronic health records (EHR) and other data can now be shared within the entire healthcare ecosystem – from patients and clinicians to pharmacists and payers, and this is progress. But it’s been slow to take shape and there are still many questions to be answered.

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