Insights: Article

5 IT Trends Every Health System Needs to Implement

By Jon Ault

January 22, 2016

Traditional health care IT investments have been focused primarily on transitioning from paper-based patient records to their electronic equivalent as showcased in the rise of electronic health record (EHR), lab and radiology system initiatives. While these investments are important, in an ever-changing industry like health care, it is essential that facilities begin focusing their IT investments on technology that will truly drive the organization for positive change. The future of health care technology lies solely in solutions that enable your organization to thrive in future reimbursement models that will shift risks from payers to patients and providers.

In today’s evolving health care environment, leaders need to adjust their technology spend from merely operating their systems to investing in innovative e-systems that will help drive revenue, increase operational efficiency and reduce risk.

Here are five IT trends that will help your organization meet the demands of the future.

Mine Data from Population Health
It is time to start leveraging the vast amounts of data your facility has been generating and collecting in your EHR and business-critical systems. Investing in “big data” population health systems will provide:

  • Analytics to manage your system’s patients and improve patient outcomes
  • Ability to identify high-risk patient populations where additional intervention is required
  • Better monitoring and proactive management of your quality of care as patients (and payors) continue to demand increased value

Drive Patient Engagement
We are in the midst of an industry shift, a changing focus on value over volume. To adapt, health care organizations must begin actively managing patient relationships like they are customers by proactively engaging patients to improve health outcomes. Patient engagement solutions are an emerging application of traditional customer relationship management (CRM) technologies, and leading patient engagement solutions provide your care management team with a structured process to:

  • Monitor and collect patient-recorded health data (example: wearables and activity tracking technologies)
  • Gather and analyze health information for connected devices (example: connected blood pressure cuffs and scales)
  • Establish effective, immediate point-of-need communications with patients
  • Achieve shared savings and improved margins under quality-based reimbursement models (example: ACOs and bundled payment policies)
  • Raise patient satisfaction HCAHPS scores

Proactively Address Risk Assessment and Management
Protecting your patients’ information and your reputation are critical to your organization’s future success. In today’s connected world, no industry or business sector is safe; monitoring the effectiveness of your information security program requires on-going diligence. Effective approaches require a balanced methodology to manage controls across your organization, including:

  • Security testing. Without an established practice for completing internal and external network security testing, your organization does not have true visibility into your current level of risk. As part of your overall HIPAA risk management strategy, technical security testing must be completed, at a minimum, on an annual basis for all hospitals.
  • Technical safeguards. Effective use of technical security tools, from firewalls and secure email to intrusion detection systems and intrusion protection systems, is a must. Modern technical security programs go far beyond traditional firewalls, and a multi-layered approach to security is most effective to protect your organization and your patients.
  • Administrative safeguards. Most security breaches begin with internal staff; an obscure email attachment or seemingly harmless link can lead to a full cyberattack. A structured plan to monitor your staff’s security training and awareness is one of the most effective tools for lowering your information security risk.

Implement Real-Time Location Services
Real-time operational intelligence is today’s solution for driving efficient utilization of resources, be that people or assets, within your organization. Implementation of a real-time location services (RTLS) platform can provide your facility with:

  • Analytic visibility into your staff’s utilization (example: time spent directly with patients)
  • Identify process inefficiencies throughout your organization
  • Optimize your facilities’ operations (example: live-time room occupations)
  • Integrate environmental monitoring capabilities (example: air quality and temperature control)
  • Automate staff and patient safety (example: hand hygiene and proximity reporting for infection control)

Support Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) and Mobile Enablement
Patients and staff continue to demand anytime, anywhere access to health information. Establishing a technology infrastructure that allows your staff to securely access and manage health information from a wide variety of devices and locations is key to meeting these growing expectations. Key technologies to support your mobile strategy include:

  • Mobile device management solutions that establish and enforce security policies on both organization and personal devices
  • Enterprise-quality wireless network capabilities

Go Beyond the Foundation of EHR
Establishing EHR and ancillary systems should be viewed as your health care organization’s IT foundation. Answer today’s evolving patient and talent demands by investing in emerging technologies that will empower you to effectively utilize the expansive patient database to create real value for your organization. Capitalizing on the opportunities in today’s disruptive technologies in health care, like the trends in population health, patient engagement, RTLS and mobile technologies, can provide your health care organization with the tools to thrive in tomorrow’s dynamic environment.

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