The world of scribbled doctors’ notes will soon be gone. Increasingly, doctors and other providers rely on electronic health records (EHRs) to understand patients’ health histories and improve care delivery. The healthcare IT industry is taking things even further, creating and providing systems that are more agile, cost efficient and robust than ever before.
Real-Time Healthcare Systems (RTHS) — systems and data that can be accessed anytime, anywhere — are becoming models for healthcare delivery in ways that are intelligent, automated, mobile and secure. Whether it is smart technologies in patient rooms, enterprise scheduling systems, patient location-tracking or real-time data analytics delivered to providers via mobile devices, RTHS is all about being able to provide the right information, at the right time, in the right format to the right audience.
But what does it take for healthcare IT staffs to take advantage of RTHS? Peak 10’s National IT Trends in Healthcare study found that healthcare IT decision makers are already struggling with resource challenges, regulatory compliance burdens, security concerns and other issues.
The information systems and intelligent medical devices inherent in RTHS generate massive amounts of data, making it challenging to find, access, organize, analyze and interpret it all. In addition, healthcare organizations typically have to deal with a collection of legacy software systems and technologies that can impede progress in many areas. Changing and increasing regulations put further stress on healthcare IT teams and their budgets, and can prevent IT teams from exploring or implementing RTHS.
One way of relieving some of the pressure on healthcare IT staffs is to use third-party companies. A number of vendors specialize in handling day-to-day IT tasks, which can free up in-house IT staffs to focus on more strategic endeavors — including implementation of RTHS. Depending on the vendor, the cloud and data center services offered may also deliver the reliability, security and performance needed for IT staffs to implement and manage RTHS. In addition, many healthcare IT departments may find it beneficial to switch from capital expenses to operating expenses as would be the case with using third-party IT infrastructure services.
An important consideration in using outside companies is to find those specifically experienced in the healthcare IT industry. This means vendors that understand HIPAA/HITECH, PCI DSS and other regulatory standards and government mandates. For cloud solutions and data center services, providers that undergo annual audits for compliance with HIPAA and other regulations will likely be better suited for the job.
To take advantage of RTHS, healthcare IT staffs require more than the promise of benefits. They need assistance in making resources available to implement these systems — and in overcoming some of the existing challenges they already face. Teaming up with an experienced technology partner with the right credentials may be the solution.