HITInfrastructure

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Interoperability, Virtualization Vital to HIT Infrastructure Growth

HIT infrastructure continues to go digital as organizations reach for virtualization and interoperable solutions in the face of value-based care.

Interoperability and virtualization for HIT infrastructure.

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- The healthcare industry has seen significant growth in HIT infrastructure technology far beyond the initial implementation of EHRs. As technology evolves entities are digitizing their tools to provide improved workflow and better patient care.

A recent Markets and Markets report reflects the development of health IT, predicting the market to grow at a CAGR of 13.5 percent through 2020.

The report found that wide-spread adoption can mostly be attributed to the need for healthcare organizations to implement tools that will help them meet heightened regulatory requirements. This includes reducing overall healthcare costs while improving the quality of patient care. Health IT tools also have a track record of high ROIs and reduce organizations’ operational costs over time.

Several of the critical health IT advancements include cloud platforms, virtualization, and interoperability.

Value-based care has close ties to health IT tools because as entities are digitizing their infrastructure, they are relying on these tools to be more efficient and cut costs. Careful health IT infrastructure planning is key for organizations who want to reduce overall costs over time as well as take advantage of advanced health IT tools.

While advancing health IT infrastructure continues to gain momentum, legacy systems that are not prioritized for upgrades and can cause problems as other more vital systems are replaced.

Value-based care places new infrastructure requirements that demand better means of information exchange and communication.

AMIA states  in a paper that significant progress has been made in the digitization of health IT infrastructure, however many IT environments contain legacy systems that are not designed to support the transition to value-based care.  

“Provider organizations pursuing new models of health care delivery and payment are finding that their electronic systems lack the capabilities needed to succeed,” said AMIA. “The result is a chasm between the current health IT ecosystem and the health IT ecosystem that is desperately needed.”

“Both the technologies themselves and the application of those technologies and the data they contain urgently need improvement to support the transition to value-based care.”

Many healthcare organizations still use fax machines to exchange information, according to AMIA. While fax machines are not necessarily less secure than more advanced means of communication, they do not integrate well with other health IT systems, such as EHRs and analytics. 

The progress towards advanced value-based care IT infrastructure lies with the technology healthcare providers are willing to adopt.

Providers face gaps in their current health IT ecosystems, including a lack of standardized APIs for external data access so clinicians can gather all patient medical data. Advanced analytic tools can also create gaps in HIT ecosystems.

Inadequate API standards hurt healthcare interoperability for organizations transitioning to value-based care because clinicians are not provided with all the information they need to gain a full view of a patient’s medical history.

Healthcare organizations are reaching for digital solutions to consolidate health IT systems, so they can interoperate while remaining secure. Virtualizing parts if the IT infrastructure is one method many organizations adoption to cut back on costs and provide faster access to tools and data.

Virtualizing components of IT infrastructure and eliminating hardware saves organizations money and it cuts down on the amount of time clinicians spend logging into and out of secure applications. Virtualizing desktops, networks, and data centers are several ways healthcare organizations can consolidate on-premises resources and use the scalability of cloud computing.

Health IT is advancing and clinicians as well as patients are aware of digital tools that can be used in healthcare and are coming to expect organizations to use digital tools to improve care.

Considering virtualizing parts of health IT infrastructure will assist organizations in meeting value-based care goals by saving money on IT infrastructure gear long term and giving clinicians a more direct and secure way to access patient information.

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