Healthcare IT: The 4 Pillars Of Technical Innovation12:07 PM EST Thu. Dec. 20, 2012
Four major technology trends, which are becoming more intertwined every day, will dominate the healthcare IT landscape in 2013, according to IDC Health Insights' top researcher, Scott Lundstrom.
These trends -- social media, cloud, big data and analytics, and mobility -- already are having a big impact on many healthcare provider and payer organizations, but CIOs will be faced with managing and deploying many of these technologies as their use becomes pervasive during the coming year. Lundstrom calls these tech trends the "four pillars" of healthcare IT and recently presented them during a keynote presentation at UBM Technology's Healthcare IT Summit.
"By using technology we can go out and make a difference in the quality and cost of care," Lundstrom told the CIOs gathered at the conference. "The answer to doing more with less in healthcare is getting closer to the patient with cloud, analytics, mobile, and social/unified communications."
When it comes to cloud computing, private cloud is emerging as the platform of choice to transform healthcare IT departments and make technology more efficient and accessible. New business requirements are demanding new architectures, and cloud platforms are a priority for payer and provider CIOs.
Healthcare IT executives are using the cloud in many different ways and for varying reasons, but according to IDC Health Insights' research, both payer and provider healthcare organizations stated that data backup and archiving is the No. 1 storage solution in the cloud, with server capacity on demand a close second.
Security issues, however, may be holding back broader deployment -- at least in the short term. Security and availability concerns were stated as the biggest impediments to deploying cloud storage solutions by 22 percent of the payers and by 40 percent of providers surveyed by IDC. "Most breaches are not the result of an inept third party; they are from a laptop left in the car or a USB left on the desk by employees," said Lundstrom.
Also, healthcare organizations must adhere to HIPAA security safeguards such as security management processes, workstation and device security and access control for proper implementation, which pose further challenges.
With all of the advantages of cloud storage, payer and provider IT executives are slowly looking beyond its challenges and beginning to implement cloud strategies for 2013. According to IDC Health Insights, nearly one-third of both payer and provider organizations are currently researching and evaluating the purchase of cloud technology. Meanwhile, 31 percent of payer organizations said they are currently deploying cloud technologies while only 16.5 percent of provider organizations said they were using the cloud.
"At the end of the day, the cloud is just another place to put things," said Lundstrom.
Big Data And Analytics
The explosion of data is creating challenges in healthcare around the volume, variety, velocity and value of information associated with it.
HIEs are certainly a focus area for big data and analytics in 2013 because of the vast amounts of data involved with the sharing process. "We've done a great job of getting analytics and research, but we've done a really bad job of getting it in the hands of the physicians," Lundstrom said. The safe exchange of patients' information will continue to get a lot of payer and provider IT executive attention in the coming months.
At the same time, IT executives' focus regarding big data and analytics will slightly shift to include care management, population health, care team collaboration, transitions in management, analytics and business intelligence. This move in the focus of data aggregation to big data and analytics is the future of healthcare IT.
NEXT: Mobility And Social Media
Mobility's pervasiveness is creating new demands on healthcare data centers -- given the need for instant connectivity, streaming video and the transfer and sharing of large medical images.
Doctors want to the ability to take a CAT scan image from the hospital's system to their iPad or iPhone simply and seamlessly so that they can travel throughout the hospital with the image. Doctors, nurses and other health payer and provider employees are demanding mobile applications and access to the network, and CIOs must have the back end ready to host such devices.
However, accessing patient data on mobile devices is still a challenge because of security issues and the cost of supporting such devices. "It always seems to be the discussion of the gadget. The gadget is not where the money or difficulty is -- supporting the device is also easy from a technical standpoint. The real issue is the money that's in the back end [network, storage, data centers, virtualization]," said Lundstrom. "We have to grow our mobile platforms to satisfy the gadget demands of the users, and we have to secure information."
Social Media and Unified Communications
Every customer or patient has a voice, and healthcare payer and provider organizations can use social media to hear those voices and use them to bring tremendous value to patient care. The next generation of consumer engagement will leverage consumers' social profiles, according to IDC Health Insights, and should be tapped into as a resource to effect positive health behaviors.
IDC Health Insights asked payer and provider IT executives about their top challenges in using or deploying social media tools and found that executive support, justifying expenses of social software, maintaining and keeping track of all the posted content and getting customers to participate were cited most often.
Forty-two percent of payers and 24 percent of providers said their top challenge is getting executive support -- the fact that these numbers are slightly low compared to the other challenges proves that healthcare organizations understand the need for social media and technology method innovation.
However, regardless of the challenges, social media is a technology that will thrive in the healthcare industry in 2013, according to IDC Health Insights. "Facebook is an 800-million-user social media application platform, and consumer engagement solutions in healthcare will be increasingly mobile and connected to social networking sites like Facebook in the coming year," said Lundstrom.
PUBLISHED DEC. 20, 2012