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Hospital IT departments lead patient care transformation

Hospital IT departments, short of the firepower needed to meet organizational demands, should consider hiring more versatile employees or vendors.

The constantly changing technology landscape has hospital IT departments looking internally to achieve their goals...

efficiently. But every IT department also must look beyond its own goals and align its mission with that of the larger organization it is part of. Doing that is the first step toward being more than a support team and becoming a true enabler for the whole organization.

The age of knowledge-driven decision making, connected patients and mobility has fueled many technological changes that health IT departments must deal with. The following are reasons why the healthcare industry has been forced to make these technological adjustments on the fly.

Data knowledge workers: Hospitals have increased the volume of information within their systems and heightened the speed at which data is captured. These data processing improvements were made, in part, to meet the demands of better patient outcomes and more accurate insights into population health. One function of a healthcare IT department should be to identify and operate technology, such as data analytics, that can assist the hospital at-large.

Cloud services: A hospital IT department can pass some of its workload to cloud services such as software as service, storage as a service or as infrastructure as a service. This shift in responsibility allows an IT team to focus on getting the most value out of its systems and not spend time on hardware management and maintenance.

Domain experts: Health informatics has become a hot area of expertise in the job market. Colleges and universities have added it to their curriculum, which is helping build a new generation of healthcare workers. These programs can bridge the gap between technical experts and healthcare professionals. Hospital IT departments should take note and increase their exposure to their business environment and familiarize themselves with basic healthcare knowledge.

Partner-driven initiatives: Many healthcare IT executives prefer working with a small group of IT vendors to cover all their technological needs and projects. Vendors that offer diversified portfolios of products and services are valuable to hospitals because their flexibility means they are able to adjust to a customer's long- and short-term needs.

Connected devices and safeguards: Hospital IT departments continue to adopt BYOD policies to ensure the safety and protection of systems and data, while offering freedom to their users. As hospital employees constantly bring in new devices and technologies, IT must stay one step ahead of users to ensure these devices are protected and that the hospital is meeting its compliance requirements.

The technology shifts facing health IT departments are monumental, and some IT teams will be challenged to make the transformation successfully.

Heightened security focus: Healthcare organizations are re-evaluating their security practices in response to increased reports of data breaches and in preparation for HIPAA audits from the HHS Office of Civil Rights. Healthcare IT departments have moved security plans to the top of their agendas and looked into purchasing security monitoring services to help them protect their internal systems, as well as patients' medical records.

Innovate and integrate: In an environment where a health IT department alone manages hardware and software, a hospital may be forced to invest more resources into system integration and customization. In cases like these, it's helpful to employ IT workers who have past experience with software development and integration. Those organizations adopting such practices have realized they can provide significant value by offering assistance with specific business challenges, such as improving population health.

The technology shifts facing health IT departments are monumental, and some IT teams will be challenged to make the transformation successfully. The good news is there are rewards to be had for those IT departments that seamlessly adapt and continue to deliver value to their organizations.

About the author:
Reda Chouffani is vice president of development at Biz Technology Solutions Inc., which provides software design, development and deployment services for the healthcare industry. Let us know what you think about the story; email
 editor@searchhealthit.com or contact @SearchHealthIT on Twitter.

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This was last published in May 2015

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