- Healthcare organizations face many IT infrastructure challenges as they seek out advanced solutions that will accommodate current and future infrastructure needs. Analytics, wearables, and blockchain are several of the tools organizations are adopting.
However, one of the biggest challenges is keeping up with the latest IT infrastructure tools while bringing down overall costs in the face of value-based care.
Value-based care correlates strongly with how healthcare organizations invest in their IT infrastructure, especially when it comes to analytics, Damo Consulting CEO Paddy Padmanabhan told HITInfrastructure.com.
“When you’re talking about value-based care you’re really talking about being accountable for health care outcomes, being accountable for cost deductions, and being accountable for improved experiences,” Padmanabhan explained who also wrote The Big Unlock. “All of these rely on having a robust analytical ability to eliminate the waste to reduce cost.”
“And then organizations should really focus on the appropriate interventions to ensure that they’re targeting the most high-risk population cohorts and intervening proactively and aggressively with them, and doing it in an efficient way, and a cost-efficient way,” he continued.
“The ability to really look at historical data to be able to analyze it, to build corrective models that highly define high-risk cohorts, and to be able to augment physicians’ productivity by providing information that enhances their treatment effectiveness are the sort of things that define health systems and health care organizations in value-based care era.”
Analytics greatly benefits healthcare organizations, but it isn’t always the easiest solution to implement and deploy. Organizations need to consider the quality of data in their data lake, how current is the data, and how standardized is the data.
Entities face challenges with how to combine structured and unstructured data all while making it real-time.
“Analytic tools are only as good as the underlying data,” said Padmanabhan. “From an infrastructure standpoint we are in a place where the volume of data is not so much an issue anymore because you can buy virtually unlimited amounts of cloud space and you can ingest as much data as you need without breaking the bank. But if the quality of the data isn’t good, you have a problem and then you’re not able to aggregate and integrate data from multiple sources effectively.”
“One big challenge is interoperability among all of these electronic health care systems,” he continued. “This challenge will continue for a while, until the whole interoperability issue is put to bed and people figure out how to normalize and standardize the data in the cloud.”
Wearables are also gaining popularity for analytics and population health. Organizations need to figure out how to best integrate these devices into the network. Since the technology is relatively new, the data collected may not be entirely reliable, Padmanabhan explained.
“The data from electronic health system circuits is incomplete, and these issues have to be worked through,” he said. “The quality of the analytics will be directly a function of that. However, organizations are figuring it out and they’re getting good results.”
Larger companies like Apple are beginning to offer healthcare wearable solutions. Apple is mostly in the consumer market, so patients may be more likely to participate in analytics when they can use their own wearable device.
Organizations need to understand the infrastructure requirements of solutions like Apple to ensure that the data is accurate and secure.
“The Apple solution is going to be a cloud-based solution,” Padmanabhan explained. “Enterprises need to get comfortable with the cloud, but I can’t tell what degree they are completely comfortable with, having their whole analytics operation working out of the cloud. It’s going to be a hybrid environment. Enterprises have to get used to the fact that there’s going to be a flow of data between an enterprise environment and an external cloud environment.”
“There also needs to be safeguards from a privacy standpoint,” he continued. “A lot of the data that we’re now getting access to, such as genomics data, can’t necessarily be used just because it’s available.”
There are serious privacy issues related to wearables, and health systems have to be very careful about how information is released, Padmanabhan stated.
In addition to adding wearables and other mobile devices to the network, organizations also have to consider how other more advanced technology will potentially impact their health IT infrastructure.
Blockchain is emerging in healthcare and may become a standard technology for data exchange and analytics sometime in the future. Padmanabhan suggested that organizations consider how blockchain will be used and what its future potential may be before implementing a solution.
“I do think that blockchain is the one with the biggest buzz right now in terms of infrastructure technologies,” said Padmanabhan. “Blockchain is in its very early stages but it’s truly transformative in it’s potential, just like cloud was and has been.”
“But blockchain is much more transformative because of the fundamentally different manner in which records are going to be stored, and distributed and maintained,” He concluded.
The emergence of advanced IT solutions calls for organizations to examine their current IT infrastructure and how it can be built upon.