The healthcare industry is facing myriad challenges. Healthcare services are costlier than ever, the world’s population is aging, and chronic diseases are proliferating. Today, healthcare is out of reach of some populations, including many living in rural areas and those who can’t afford it. Despite setbacks, technological and scientific innovations are forging breakthroughs that are winning the battle against deadly diseases.
All of this points to the need to cut costs while providing better, more accessible patient care. Although new technologies can’t stop the population from aging or eradicate chronic disease, they hold the promise of solving other issues such as cost and accessibility. All this must be accomplished without sacrificing the security of patient information. Says PwC, “The financial and reputational cost of a breach affecting patient health can far exceed the lost revenue from business disruption.”
Reasons for Slow Technology Adoption
There has never been any question that healthcare organizations want to protect patient health information, but the sheer number of rules in HIPAA is overwhelming. Achieving full compliance has made healthcare firms wary of adopting new technologies that may somehow allow patient information to be compromised.
As a result, many healthcare providers have taken a back-seat stance regarding technology. This includes outsourcing maintenance of medical equipment such as MRI and x-ray machines, microscopes, and CT scanners, as well as taking care of IT infrastructures—the laptops, networks, smartphones, and other Things needed to keep medical facilities running. In fact, many healthcare organizations, for valid reasons, decide to lease versus own their medical and IT equipment.
A Glimpse into the Near Future
Although technology adoption has historically been slow, there are several indicators this trend is about to change. IoT technology, in particular, can help providers deliver better-quality care, more affordably and conveniently.
Telehealth, or the practice of monitoring and checking in with patients remotely, is a growing trend. Medical checks can move from in-hospital to in-home via devices such as wearables and video communications. The convenience of home-centric checks can improve their frequency, leading to better diagnoses and lessening the need for hospitalization—not to mention freeing travel time for patients and overworked medical professionals.
Real-time monitoring via connected devices can alert physicians and save lives in the event of a medical emergency like heart failure, diabetes, or asthma attacks.
On-time alerts can prove critical during life-threatening circumstances. IoT allows devices to gather vital data and transfer it to doctors for real-time tracking, while delivering notifications to others in the chain of care responsible for helping the patient.
Until a few years ago, digital applications in medicine were restricted to the use of data obtained from EHRs but, in more recent times, the technological context has notably expanded: the number of existing Internet-connected mobile devices has roughly doubled every five years. This phenomenon will probably lead to the simultaneous operability of around 50 billion devices by 2020.
Digital medical tools and sensors.”Topol EJ, Steinhubl SR, Torkamani A,JAMA. 2015 Jan 27; 313(4):353-4
Managing a New Type of Infrastructure
Due to the popularity of leasing equipment and IT assets in healthcare, IT professionals in the field are operating at a disadvantage. If they do not own the assets, then it can be difficult to know how many they have, where they are, and when they need to be serviced or decommissioned. CIOs to a large extent must trust equipment vendors to learn more about the Things their organizations use.
Alternatively, they may try to manage all of the Things keeping the facility running based on information housed in departmental systems that inevitably hold different data. Either way, asset management tactics in healthcare often result in poor data quality and manual efforts to coalesce information. They also prevent organizations from having a true single source of truth about the machines powering the facility.
To manage assets, healthcare organizations need a single source of truth for every Thing. They need to be aware of changes in the lifecycle of every asset, whether it is fully operational, stolen, lost, in need of maintenance, or ready to be decommissioned. Only then will healthcare facilities be able to keep employees productive and equipped with all the tools they need to ensure good patient care. Complete knowledge of assets is also essential to protecting patient health information. Instead of overnighting CDs with MRI images, medical professionals can safely, securely, and efficiently share information electronically via their IT infrastructures. Tracking Things accurately also is essential for budgeting, forecasting, auditing, reporting, employee on-boarding and off-boarding, and other key business processes. The problem of Thing Management is being intensified with the advent of IoT and the increased use of connected devices.
A Better Way to Manage Assets
What CIOs need is next-generation Thing Management - capable of tracking assets from purchase through decommissioning. With comprehensive, end-to-end Thing Management, healthcare organizations can avoid the time and costs associated with searching for asset information.
They also can worry less about safeguarding patient information and HIPAA compliance, a crucial factor because people trust that their health information will be kept confidential. Every Thing is a window into a healthcare institution’s network, putting patient health information at risk. Every precaution must be taken to safeguard it.
Especially due to the prevalence of equipment leasing, healthcare CIOs have struggled to get the information they need to effectively manage their organizations’ Things. They may try to cobble together information from disparate systems, or extract data from vendors, but it often results in a fragmented picture of the asset landscape.
With Thing Management from Oomnitza, healthcare organizations have a shared system to serve as a single source of truth for assets. They have access to the information they need to optimize asset utilization and reduce the manual effort needed to understand the facility’s complete asset inventory. As assets take a more important role in helping make healthcare more accessible and affordable, and as the need to secure healthcare networks grows direr, it’s crucial to have a complete view of all the Things needed to improve the healthcare outlook.