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Sep 18 2013   1:11PM GMT

IT as a Service can transform healthcare

Posted by: adelvecchio
CHIME, IT as a Service, IT skills, patient care


Guest post by Roberta Katz, director, healthcare solutions, EMC Corporation, @Roberta_Katz, @EMCHealthcare

Healthcare organizations are under pressure to respond to Affordable Care Act mandates and meet meaningful use requirements. These demands are driving many organizations to find the right mix of new technologies and business models that will enhance patient care delivery and outcomes, all at lower IT cost.

Wanted: Innovation on a budget

According to a recent survey of CHIME CIOs, 90% of health IT executives report IT innovation is a key component to their future success. The challenge is that only 6% of CIOs surveyed gave their organization an “A” when asked to grade their current ability to innovate. To help enable this transition, many organizations are implementing IT as a Service (ITaaS) models to help lower operational costs, restructure costs from capital to operating expenses, improve service levels, and accelerate deployment of key healthcare applications.

The surveyed CIOs estimate that 47% of their portfolio has the potential to be delivered via ITaaS. They project this service-oriented approach can save 9% of their IT costs, which translates to $11 billion in savings across the industry over the next three years. These are significant savings, likely to increase as healthcare providers merge and form mega networks.

Centralized IT means improved care — with all patient information available at any time as healthcare IT organizations extend their reach to external enterprises involved with care collaboration. This includes ambulatory care settings, physician offices, skilled nursing facilities, home healthcare, and other smaller, healthcare providers.

Others hope to close the IT skills gap — 52% are unable to find and hire all the needed IT staff equipped with the necessary skills. The ability to operate as the internal “service provider of choice” and a “broker” of services from third-party service providers means in-demand IT talent can focus on real change — supporting improved care and transforming the business.

The adoption curve: Providers are taking steps

According to the survey, the benefits of ITaaS are several and significant, including: Managing rapid data growth, reducing risk while new business models are rolled out, and improving information security.

Recognizing the significance of these benefits, respondents report that 15% of their total IT portfolio is delivered via an ITaaS model today. Furthermore, 94% of respondents say they have purchased at least part of their IT portfolio “as a service.”

  • 87% have purchased software or Applications as a Service, such as virtualization
  • 22% have purchased platforms or complete environments, which can help increase the use of private and hybrid clouds
  • 18% have purchased Infrastructure as a Service

Prescription for change

While providers have taken solid initial steps — there is more work to be done. Recommendations from those on the front lines include:

  • Measure progress and improve transparency: Have a structure in place for measuring IT return on investment and transparency across ITaaS pricing.
  • Educate and provide access to IT service information: Spread the word, develop a catalog of services, and promote to stakeholders.
  • Follow the leaders: Learn from those that have already made the move.

As IT departments transform their operations to run ITaaS, their role will also transform — from exclusive providers of IT services to brokers of IT services. The agility of a cloud infrastructure enables numerous possibilities and innovation, such as EMR as a Service, PACS as a Service, Analytics as a Service, or Backup as a Service and can be delivered to organizations without resources to allow them to support these services.

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