Healthcare sector offers immense potential for IT services and solutions. The focus of healthcare service providers or hospitals is to optimize a variety of healthcare related tasks. Healthcare tasks include, managing operations efficiently related to healthcare delivery, patient care, reporting or management information systems (MIS) and integrating data between different departments (for example, pathology, radiology, intensive-care, etc.) among many others. Technology allows information sharing across hospitals, act as patient referrals and disseminate knowledge related to certain specific illnesses. The main objective is to have an enterprise wide comprehensive health information management system (HMIS) for enhancing healthcare service delivery which is made possible through technology adoption.
IT enables easy accessibility of healthcare data and helps to overcome the issues in manual processing of health data. According to one survey done by Healthcare Informatics in 2014, cloud computing is widely preferred by the healthcare sector showing an adoption rate of 83% worldwide and this market has the potential to generate $9.48 billion revenues by 2020. Cloud computing systems also provide data privacy, patient confidentiality and security which are highly required by hospitals to protect their knowledge and vital health information assets.
Key objectives for IT adoption in Healthcare
IT services is certainly poised for seamless provisioning of healthcare to both, patients and healthcare professionals. Some of the key drivers in IT adoption include,
- Cost effective healthcare delivery
- Comprehensive patient information in centralized stores for intelligent analysis and referrals
- New approaches in interactions and information sharing between healthcare providers and patients (use of mobile devices, social media platforms, etc.)
- Efficiency, transparency and instant data sharing between departments (pathology, intensive-care, radiology, etc.)
- Improving standards in public health systems
Based on these objectives, IT usage trends that are quite likely to transform healthcare sector are summarized below,
- Maturity at organizational levels: The trend namely ‘innovation center of excellence’ followed by organizations is paving the way for healthcare and life sciences firms towards aligning their resources in innovative ways – for example, Pfizer views innovation across its pharmaceutical divisions to ensure long-term capabilities for the organization. Innovation, collaboration and information sharing is easily enabled by IT and cloud based systems which is always tied to success and competitiveness.
- Data science movement: This is one exciting development in healthcare today, HMIS professionals seek to bring more meaning and identify insights by making use of existing data. The availability of big data in healthcare analytics is taking center stage and already companies are investing in healthcare analytics solutions that provide wisdom on improved healthcare for patients. Such voluminous processing and handling of large datasets require high performance compute, storage and bandwidth resources.
- Liquidity of Information: Data liquidity is another trend which emphasizes on interoperability. Without interoperability the desired healthcare outcomes of populations cannot be achieved. Nowadays, electronic medical records (EMR) are designed to be interoperable which is made possible by open source platforms and certain development environments. Data centers and cloud service models, especially SaaS environments provide the needed interoperability in EMR for accessing data across multiple operating environments.
- Data Security: With interoperability, security is a big issue. Security in healthcare information is crucial because the right information must be sent to the right person at the right time thus protecting patient privacy and data integrity. Security is also highly desired by hospitals to protect their vital knowledge related to illness and treatment procedures. Cloud services offered by data centers provide multiple layers of in-depth defense to ensure security at different user levels in any healthcare organization.
- Clinical Innovation: The trends of data science and innovation aims to result in patient empathy and improved approaches to drug development and healthcare delivery. During the last decade, healthcare industry has opened up by sharing large amounts of online information which is made possible by emerging technologies and the worldwide web. Pharmaceutical giants such as Pfizer, GSK, Johnson & Johnson and many others feel the need to adopt emerging technologies in their research for better drug outcomes. Further, technology enables healthcare companies to innovate and quickly test new medical interventions, procedures and methods which otherwise would normally take long time to develop and implement in the absence of technology. Further technology supports healthcare experts to provide directives on disease outbreaks and to provide information to rural populations for prevention and care.
Benefits realized from IT adoption in healthcare
- Improved collaboration and efficient information sharing and work flows between all stakeholders in healthcare sector. According to Clinical Innovations + Technology, 1 out of every 3 patients expressed satisfaction that digital communications play a significant role in improving their health.
- Leverage big data analytics and analysis tools for supporting research in identifying new drugs for improved clinical interventions. According to McKinsey Global Institute, the use of big data technologies in drug and clinical trials has the capacity to generate US$ 100 billion annually.
- Disease data sharing between hospitals for better clinical interventions but protecting patient privacy.
- Clinical innovations through analysis of EMR, EHR. According to Accenture Consulting report on Health Tech Vision-2015, 54% patients are finding mobile devices and apps as advantageous in health monitoring and 28% physicians use computerized records routinely for clinical decision making.
In addition to the above, there are many more advantages to show the benefits of technology adoption in healthcare services. According to PWC report on healthcare, the global healthcare business is pegged at US$ 9.29 trillion in the coming years. Healthcare professionals must understand that technology is only a tool for integrating information from various stakeholders including patients and not a substitute for treatment or physicians. Overall, the healthcare sector is more poised to embrace emerging technologies in the coming decades due for their functionalities, efficiency and easy accessibility.