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Health-Care IT Pros Wake Up in a Cold Sweat

By Edward Gately

Technology is playing a major role in the ongoing transformation of the U.S. health-care industry, but government mandates are holding back further innovation by monopolizing IT professionals’ and other officials’ time and resources.

That summarizes the key findings in the National IT Trends in Healthcare Study conducted by Peak 10, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based infrastructure and cloud-services provider, which operates data centers in 10 U.S. markets.

The first-time study involved high-ranking executives and IT professionals at 149 U.S. health-care organizations. The respondents were asked to provide their insights into industry challenges and the future of their industry.

From an IT perspective, health care is under tremendous pressure to make non-revenue producing investments and to divert resources away from innovation and new application development, according to the study. In addition, many IT departments already are understaffed and underfunded.

Three out of five health-care IT professionals believe that government mandates are having a negative effect on their industry, the study revealed.

Christina Kyriazi, manager of market insights and analytics for Peak 10, told Channel Partners, “you could really feel the stress coming through in the interviews.”

“We heard things like ‘I wake up in a cold sweat wondering what regulations I missed,’” she said. “So you can see the struggle they’re going through, with an increasing pile of regulatory issues they have to take care of, but not getting proportionally the resources they need.”

Other key findings include:

  • Health care companies are cautiously but steadily moving into the cloud with software as a service (SaaS) and non-critical workloads, such as administrative/corporate systems. Cloud adoption is mainly driven by regulatory mandates around electronic health records.
  • Some 77 percent of hospitals, biotech firms, pharmaceuticals and insurance providers are seeking partners to help them maintain high reliability, while 70 percent of respondents said they need partners to help with security and data privacy concerns.
  • Mobility, electronic health records, patient portals and regulation are the critical technology topics that will make the greatest impact on health care IT environments.
  • Among the 50 percent of health-care IT companies that use a third-party integrator/partner to assist with IT strategy, 70 percent cited …

 … depth of technical knowledge as the top reason, while 60 percent indicated that partners alleviate time and resource constraints on internal IT staff.

  • Among insurance organizations, 59 percent indicated their IT budgets would either decline or remain static over the next two years. By contrast, 34 percent said their IT budgets would increase during the same period.

Respondents were excited about all the “cool things” they wanted to do to improve health care via technology, “but legislation and regulation … always has to come first, inhibiting them from moving at the pace they want,” Kyriazi said.

“Technology is seen as the enabler to a better patient experience, giving patients more control over their personal information and health care history, therefore empowering them to trust their health care provider and to make more sound and well-informed decisions for themselves,” she said.

Allen Skipper, chief commercial officer for Peak 10, said pressures from government, budgets and keeping up with evolving requirements, coupled with the heightened demand for technology to support the patient experience, translate to a critical need for knowledgeable IT partners to provide access to technology, while serving as a collaborative resource to ensure staff are versed in rapidly changing security mandates. 

“It’s not enough for cloud and data center services providers to help customers maximize their IT assets,” he said. “It’s critical for these partners to continually engage in initiatives to better understand the needs of today’s health-care IT professionals now and in the future, driving innovation and enabling developments to further enhance patient care quality and safety.”


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