If you attended HIMSS, what did you find most interesting about the show?
Attendance at the HIMSS show in Orlando, FL this year was record breaking (31,225 people) . If you consider the current challenges facing healthcare IT, this makes perfect sense. I personally was hoping to get a better understanding of how organizations are tackling and prioritizing three major healthcare initiatives currently facing them: moving from ICD-9 to ICD-10, Meaningful Use, and Health Information Exchange (HIE). What I learned from speaking with show attendees is that due to the criticality as well as the relatively short timetable of these initiatives, they have to address them in parallel. Based on the significant resources and effort required to address these initiatives, most CIO’s I spoke with at the show were looking for ways to drive efficiency, streamline process and enable automation to allow their limited IT staff to transition from being reactive to engaging in the strategic efforts required to be successful over the next few years.
Over the next few years, these initiatives will drive the need for significant changes to existing processes and the technologies deployed to support them. In preparation for these changes, healthcare CIOs will need to evaluate their current network capacity and measure it against their anticipated future needs to determine when and where they will need to make investments. Electronic Medical Records and HIE implementations will drive the need for increased data storage capacities and will require updates to the current data center architecture. An increase in the use and number of biomedical devices, the proliferation of high resolution medical imaging and the need for video to support remote clinical consultation will drive the need to increase the capacity and flexibility of the network foundation. The need for clinicians to access patient data from any location at any time from any device will drive the need for updates to the wireless infrastructure from the existing 802.11a/b/g to the higher capacity 802.11n networks.
It’s important to note that new technology doesn’t have to equate to increased complexity; new technology can provide a means of increasing efficiencies and reducing management overhead. Network upgrades provide a great opportunity to identify areas to streamline process, increase efficiency and reduce costs by centralizing control and reducing administrative overhead. As I mentioned above, the CIOs I spoke with at HIMSS 2011 were looking for ways to ensure their existing IT staff is able to focus more time on the important strategic initiatives that need to be tackled in the near term. They are more willing than ever to evaluate options that challenge the status quo if they offer sustainable and achievable efficiencies while supporting their clinical environments.