Healthcare IT Will Only Get More Complex in New Year

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The end of an old year brings with it numerous end-of-year lists for all areas of our culture, and healthcare is no exception.  An article from ZDNet outlines five expected 2013 IT trends in healthcare, many of which will probably affect your organization.

First, there’s “the continuing growth of ER.”

As reporter Denise Amrich writes, “Electronic health record systems are finding their way into even the smallest doctors’ offices and healthcare providers. Within a year or so, we’ll find almost universal EHR implemented within all facets of the healthcare industry.”

However, there’s been such a rush to implement these systems, Amrich adds, that the huge question in 2013 and beyond “will be whether the EHR systems implemented are good or not.”

If they’re not good, what will befall these systems in the next three to five years?

Second, be prepared for an influx of “tablets everywhere.”

Android and iOS devices are taking over healthcare. Expect this to only increase in 2013.

Of course, the main issue on the table is whether these tablets are secure enough.

Writes Amrich, “Many consumer-grade tablets can’t provide the level of security required, so it may be a good idea to look towards vertically integrated Windows 8-based gear for many applications.”

The third prediction builds on the second, with “pressure to allow BYOD” or bring-your-own-device to mount.

Rather than the hospital providing physicians with an IT device, providers simply allow employees to bring their own, thus saving on the organization providing the device for them.

Naturally, this leads to compatibility issues, but “BYOD can be particularly challenging in healthcare, when HIPAA and HITECH regulations mandate particular care in ensuring that patient records don’t leave when employees walk out of the building.”

The fourth prediction really needs no explanation—“vastly increased cybersecurity threats targeting healthcare.”

As has been reported elsewhere, hackers view healthcare providers as a susceptible lot, since many of them are new to the IT landscape and their initial integration efforts are clunky and hasty, and because the industry itself is filled with valuable data that can equal profitable blackmail. Boning up on your security measures and educating your staff on cyberspace safety should be a priority for organizations in the New Year.

Finally, “app-enabled consumer tech” or “devices that derive their intelligence from smartphones” will thrive.

Think healthcare monitors and blood-pressure cuffs that are all smartphone-based.

Amrich warns, “If you’re a physician, expect to start getting requests from your patients to directly access and evaluate their app-enabled device reports online.”

What is your organization doing to prepare for these healthcare IT trends in 2013? Are you ready for a newly mobilized patient population? What are the positives you see in these trends? What are the dangers?

by Pete Fernbaugh

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