Recently, Gartner announced that it believed 2012 would be a year in which channel leaders would redefine how IT operates and how it is employed by enterprises. A strong IT system is essential for an innovative and amplified organisation. One market that is certainly developing its IT and technology services is the healthcare sector. Recent research indicates that the healthcare sector is willing to spend more and more of its budget on IT solutions and technology in order to improve patient care, as IT is used increasingly frequently to strengthen the customer experience, as well as drive operational automation and control.
This is a great opportunity for the channel as long as it delivers good value solutions, allowing clinicians and IT departments to improve patient care (which is of course of the utmost importance) and also achieve more with less. It seems that healthcare organisations are experiencing a record surge in unstructured data, whilst IT departments and clinical data centres are also struggling with the need to leverage the inherent value of clinical data through increased analytics while managing the many medical applications demanded by clinicians and regulators. One key aspect to understanding how data growth can spiral out of control is often evident in the way that hospitals and trusts are funded. e.g. A new medical scanner may be bought using the hospital trust charity budget, however the management and responsibility of the system is managed by the IT department, but the data is the responsibility of the radiography department. This type of situation further exacerbates the uncontrolled data growth and leads to further inefficiencies.
Data is of course essential to any organisation, especially in the healthcare industry, now that everything has become digitalised and such high volumes of personal and valuable information are being managed on a daily basis. Recent NHS data showed that 17,000 British males were admitted to hospital between 2009 and 2012 for obstetric appointments (related to childbirth) – the official figures are available at www.HESonline.nhs.uk. Data management errors clearly need to be solved and reducing data input errors is a good starting point, as illustrated by the new University College Hospital Macmillan Cancer Centre in London, open since April of this year. The centre allows patients to check in at kiosks (like at the airport!) and technology such as a bar code permits automatic check-ins. To make the process even simpler for patients and reduce data errors, a listing of all future appointments will even appear on screen.
In addition, by bringing the clinical and patient data together with technologies like the Hitachi Clinical repository, clinicians are able to link all of a patient’s data together leading to a more accurate and efficient diagnosis.
I believe that there’s now a chance for the channel to deliver solutions to provide productive and easily accessible data, especially as patient data has to be held and lasts longer than the technology that runs it.
The increasing use of scanning equipment for diagnoses and treatments emphasises that the value of technology when dealing with patients is already clear to healthcare and clinicians. The aptly-named “Surgery by mouse” is becoming common place with technology providing the ability to carry out intricate keyhole surgery leading to improved recovery times. However with the NHS facing the Nicholson Challenge to reduce spending by £20 billion in efficiency savings by 2015 and 4% savings year-on-year, the channel will need to prove that new solutions will save money and improve patient care. For a long time now healthcare organisations have understood the advantages of technology, so I can’t help but ask, is now the time for the IT channel to catch up and make a difference?