Healthcare is experiencing an unprecedented transformation.
Motivated by the need to meet new regulatory requirements in the U.S., including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and to receive incentives from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s (ARRA’s) Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) provision, many healthcare providers are investing to modernize their legacy IT infrastructure and clinical applications. In addition to meeting compliance issues, these early adopters are discovering numerous advantages from their investment in IT – not only in cost savings, but also in improved patient care, tightened information security, advanced collaboration, increased transparency and trackability, and ‘connected care.’
To meet growing demands for new services and applications, providers have added servers and datacenters both organically to meet demand and through acquisitions of other providers. This fragmented approach has resulted in computing silos and an over proliferation of servers and applications, increasing the cost and complexity of providers’ IT infrastructure. As healthcare costs continue to skyrocket, providers are on a quest for innovative technologies to remove complexity, reduce costs and help them maintain excellent patient care.
For example, some facilities are leveraging virtualization, a proven technology, to accelerate the implementation of Electronic Health Records (EHR), computerized physician order entry (CPOE), e-prescribing, and health information exchange (HIE). Investing in flexible, cost-efficient infrastructure and application platforms helps these healthcare organizations automate and connect, while also reducing operating costs.
A military hospital recently set out to decrease overall operations costs and increase productivity, leveraging technology to help them achieve these goals. Through the use of virtual computer log-ons, the facility decreased log-in times in exam rooms from three minutes to just 18 seconds. For a staff person who logs into a computer an average of 14 times per day, this two and a half minute time savings adds up quickly – and leads to better patient care, decreased costs and increased quality of life for staff. Multiple staff members have reported being able to spend more time with patients than they were able to in the past. Less time wasted means more time available to spend with patients, completing charts and participating in other projects.
As lowering costs remains a top priority, technology becomes a smart solution to help improve care delivery, tighten information security and increase transparency and accountability. Increasing flexibility and enhancing end-to-end information security allows providers to meet and exceed regulatory requirements and adopt new processes, like EHRs, quickly, successfully and safely. Comprehensive security and compliance management solutions can provide a single management framework to better protect patient privacy, secure IT systems, and meet compliance requirements. Integrating these new technologies to modernize existing IT infrastructure helps to ease the transition from paper-based to electronic systems for integrated delivery networks, community hospitals, clinics and public health organizations.
In healthcare, quality is measured by the outcome. To provide the highest quality care in today’s rapidly changing healthcare climate, providers can leverage virtualization and other technologies to meet new uptime, security and availability requirements, while reducing cost and increasing the quality of patient care. Healthcare is accelerating toward a future of more collaborative, expanded patient-centered care. Through technology providers gain the IT and business agility to deliver better and more affordable care to everyone. As more of our veterans return home, many with life-changing disabilities, this need becomes even more urgent.
Steve Coles is Vice President, VMware VMware is the leader in virtualization and cloud infrastructure solutions that enable government organizations to thrive in the Cloud Era. For more information please visit www.vmware.com/industry/government.