A few months ago, we partnered with two of EDI Staffing’s Health IT consultants, Suren Machiraju & Suraj Gaurav, to put together some predictions for the year ahead. Here’s what they had to say…
With a burgeoning global economy, significant investor confidence and immense pressure on healthcare IT systems by an aging demographic, 2015 is expected to be the beginning of a five-year renewal cycle of investments in IT especially — and unlike the past, most of those investments will be made on software.
Cloud and multi-cloud
A few years ago, a Bain & Company report noted that by 2020 revenue from cloud products and services would mushroom from $20 billion to $150 billion. “Turns out that adoption rate was wrong, we’ll exceed $150 billion by 2017, which will be 10 percent of total IT spend,” says Michael Heric, a Bain partner focusing on technology, media and telecommunications.
As business leaders become more comfortable with the concept of the cloud, its adoption will be top of mind for almost every IT manager.
Overall efficiencies and competitive advantages will drive IT managers to their choice of adopting private, public and multi-cloud. Public clouds will be an attractive choice for some due to their ability to scale; time to market; and security. Yes, security, since there is a burgeoning realization that public clouds have made significant strides in the physical and software security via huge investments, which have outpaced that of private clouds and data centers. Bringing together the private and public cloud into a multi-cloud, also known as the hybrid cloud, will extend existing investments and will be widely seen as the best way to transition an IT department cloud.
Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure are by far the two biggest public cloud vendors. Amazon has the benefit of being the first mover; Microsoft enjoys the high levels of trust from businesses that already use its other enterprise software products. During 2015, solutions that harness data and offer decision support will be early choices for cloud deployment.
In 2015 alone, the world will produce data equal to 120,000 times the total of all previously written words in history. This data will be generated by more exponentially powerful computing, and then stored in the cloud, accessible to a growing range of devices.
Business owners are demanding better ways of harnessing data and seeking ways to incorporate machine learning into their decision making process. IT managers in 2015 will have a range of choices to deliver on this priority task. IT managers, being aware of the complexity and inherent variability of the solutions, will leverage public clouds to manage risks associated with building the solutions.
Hospital administrators and civic officials will demand of IT managers new ways to alert and electronically monitor large groups of people for symptoms pertaining to the Ebola virus.
Healthcare IT professionals will also apply best practices from other industry domains (e.g., real-time fraud detection) and apply it to care and cost management. IT managers will also turn to a new class of visual apps that consume this data and demonstrate scenarios to improve the bottom line, especially around administrative and medical loss ratios.
IT managers embarking on new or reviewing existing Data Processing solutions should consider an end-to-end perspective from sources to consumption. And the perspective gained should be the basis for selecting appropriate technologies. Microsoft’s Azure Cloud platform offers a comprehensive data pipeline (intelligent systems cloud gateway, hadoop/HD insight, machine learning, near real time (NRT) computing/notification hub and power BI) as does Amazon (Kinesis, Redshift) that are worthy of consideration.
Apps make inroads to healthcare IT
“We can see within five years apps moving from novelty to mainstream” — Murray Aitken, executive director of the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, quoted by Modern Healthcare in 2013.
Apps are now a part of IT lexicology and the one of the oldest debates in the IT world — single vendor ‘box’ suite vs. best-of-breed app — is settled. Specialized vendors and often enough, in-house developers with their significant subject matter expertise deliver apps that align existing business processes. IT managers from their review of apps are realizing that they are built with integration and information exchange as core tenants. IT managers are also appreciating the subscription-based pricing of apps and more importantly usage based pricing.
IT managers will be called upon to integrate health record systems with apps that provide to the consumers a more complete ‘read’ view of patient diagnosis/treatment plans and more significantly provide ability to append data generated by smart devices into the health records. IT managers will be prudent to include features that focus on analytics in the app investments, especially to demonstrate improvements to the bottom-line.
Smart devices gain momentum
“Smart mobile devices and applications, working in concert with cloud computing, social networking and big data analytics, will be at the core of global healthcare transformation. These transformative technologies will continue to lead with ways to help rein in cost, broaden access, change behaviors and improve outcomes.” — Pat Hyek, Global Technology Industry Leader, Ernst & Young
Smart devices and their management platforms will continue making their presence felt to IT managers in the coming year, but large-scale deployment is a few years away. The rapidly expanding deployment of ‘enterprise class’ mobile devices (e.g., sensors, equipment, healthcare/personal monitoring devices, etc.) generating vast amounts of data is the driving force behind this need for one consolidated device and data strategy.
Mobile and home monitoring solutions will be topics of discussion, especially to manage costs of an aging population. As an example, there are devices from iHealth that connect up to a smart phone via Bluetooth protocol. However, these devices do not yet integrate this with healthcare IT platforms, more so for non-technical reasons. IT managers should stay abreast of upcoming advancements in this technology.
Gartner forecasts that spending by global healthcare providers for IT services will grow by 5.04 percent to reach $32.16 billion in 2014. Consulting, with a 7.51 percent forecasted growth in 2014, will be the fastest-growing sub-segment accelerated by continued global regulations for healthcare reform.
IT managers in healthcare are already well-versed with leveraging external talent for staff augmentation purposes. And now, Gartner studies indicate IT services (implementation, consulting and maintenance) are nearly one third of spending by global healthcare providers. IT managers will continue to rely on subject matter experts to get the IT implementation right the first time — be it designers, developers or support teams.
IT managers will also need to focus their energies on compliance with mandates, especially ICD-10. While some healthcare IT departments are either complete or in advanced stages of implementation, there will still be staffing needs for creating crosswalks, training and help material. IT managers should also be aware of updates being proposed to claims (HIPAA 837) that may need changes to maps and verification of the end-to-end process.
IT managers are also advised to include security audits and reviews as natural rhythms of business and leverage experts to conduct periodic threat analysis and risk exposure. Additionally, IT managers will also be required to create secure logistical arrangements – networking, secured and bit-locked laptops to support a global work team.
The rapid pace of innovation in IT technologies and techniques are requiring healthcare IT organizations to make significant investments in evaluating and selecting the right fit with vendor/service organizations.
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