Guest post by Kirk Larson, national CIO, healthcare, NetApp Inc.
As we start a new year, let’s take a moment and take stock of the past 12 months. Like an annual physical, it gives us a chance to take a pulse check on the industry and see what the next year has in store – the opportunities and the obstacles.
During 2015, we had the opportunity to chat candidly with CIOs, healthcare technology partners and healthcare providers to discuss the big questions affecting the industry:
— What are the big topics the industry will be focused on?
— What changes do you see coming?
— What new challenges lay ahead and what new technologies will help us overcome them?
Based on these discussions, here are some of the key trends healthcare CIOs can expect in 2016:
Electronic Health Record (EHR) Optimization
As healthcare organizations move beyond implementation phase of EHRs, CIOs and IT are refocusing their efforts towards enhancing care workflow and benefits realization by way of optimizing the IT infrastructure. Basically, the status quo on overspending on legacy hardware is no longer being tolerated.
While the high availability, performance and security requirements for IT infrastructure certainly aren’t lessening anytime soon, IT is feeling greater cost pressures to run EHRs more efficiently. As a result, organizations are looking to simplify IT operations for running on-premises data centers with improved data management solutions, with the end-goal of moving toward building their own private clouds.
In addition to greater cost efficiency, we are seeing a growing demand for increased agility of IT services. As such, organizations are looking to advanced analytics capabilities as a means of achieving greater responsiveness. But before they can reap the benefits of employing a population health management system, IT needs to shift from tired legacy IT environments to highly agile IT infrastructure.
Population Health Management
Population health management programs have long been used by healthcare insurers to increase wellness and decrease claims cost. Organizations leverage multiple data sources such as EHRs, pharmaceutical data, insurance claims, etc.; to enhance and preserve wellness, as well as, programs that anticipatory and pre-emptive in design.
Today, healthcare providers are embracing population health programs like never before. As the industry focus shifts from treating patient illness to managing patient wellness – thanks to the Affordable Care Act – advanced analytics solutions are playing a critical role in this transition. Healthcare providers are using these programs to improve outcomes, reduce re-admissions, and manage costs.
Growing Hybrid Cloud Investment
While many healthcare organizations have been slower to invest in the cloud, the vital roles EHRs and analytics are playing in modern care means that more hospitals will be investing in cloud solutions in the next 12 months.
We expect organizations will take a measured approach to cloud adoptions as there is still a perceived stigma about data security. As a result, more CIOs will look to Back-Up-as-a-Service (BUaaS) and Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) as entry points to the cloud.
Increase in Data Security Investments
Whether real or perceived, data security risks and threats will continue to be a major focus for healthcare leaders in 2016. Protecting patient data and defending against security breaches will require greater time, resources and investments. Encryption of data in transit and at rest will be more widely adopted across the industry.
As a result, many CIOs will be increasing their IT security budgets; as well as conducting a larger number of security audits. Organizations will look to third party security firms and vendors like NetApp to get a comprehensive snap shot of their systems, security practices, and infrastructure to identify potential vulnerabilities and patch any weaknesses before they can be exploited.