Healthcare IT is a field that continues to evolve, much in part due to technology. Technology has allowed healthcare to expand, ushering in new and efficient ways to better care for patients. However, technology doesn’t have free reign in healthcare. It’s governed by multiple regulations, including the need for HIPAA compliance. It’s a complicated industry that requires unique strategies to ensure that technology supports delivering care efficiently and effectively.
What is healthcare IT?
According to The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, healthcare IT encompasses any electronic solution that healthcare professionals as well as patients use to store, share, or analyze health information. It includes a variety of systems:
- Electronic health records (EHRs): Software systems that provide a central hub for clinicians to collect and track patient information. These platforms make it easier to share health information, enabling better care coordination.
- Escripts: These are digital prescriptions. They remove paper from the process and create better efficiencies in medication disbursement.
- Privacy and security: Personal healthcare information (PHI) must be kept private and secure. The threat of PHI breaches is only rising. An analysis of data breach investigations by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services found that the number has skyrocketed in the last year. The number of breach investigations was five times greater in 2019 than in 2018. Cybercriminals are highly motivated to steal PHI, meaning any healthcare organization has to have a robust cybersecurity strategy in place.
- IT infrastructure: The internal workings of a healthcare organization including its network and its use of cloud services. This infrastructure needs to be consistently updated, maintained, and protected to ensure that healthcare professionals can leverage technology.
The importance of healthcare IT
The objective of technology in healthcare is to facilitate better care for patients and greater efficiencies in workflows. It does this by supporting the collection of patient data for care coordination and tracking of conditions. It’s also a vital tool in ensuring compliance. In fact, technology, when used appropriately, can help ensure HIPAA compliance.
The changing world of healthcare IT—what you need for a healthy system
The world of healthcare is facing tech challenges, which are very unique considering the requirements and security required in the industry. Data breaches are rampant. Ransomware healthcare IT attacks are on the rise as cybercriminals become more sophisticated. Beyond security and privacy, most entities are being pressured to cut costs and improve efficiencies with better interoperability.
With all these challenges and an industry that never stops changing, healthcare organizations need to focus on these pillars for a healthy system.
- Data security, portability, and accessibility: Healthcare big data is vital to enabling better patient outcomes. The first pillar of any successful healthcare IT system is a strategic approach to keeping data safe but accessible.
- Robust architecture: Without a healthy architecture, technology cannot provide the benefits expected. Healthcare requires an architecture that provides the security of the network but also allows employees to use technology to perform their duties. This includes everything from server management to maintaining and updating hardware and software.
- Business continuity: Healthcare IT must include a plan in the case of a disaster, including the backup of data as well as a disaster recovery plan that gets the organization back up and running as soon as possible.
- Everyday maintenance and support: The last pillar of any healthy IT system is daily maintenance and support of all systems. Technology needs consistent and constant attention to ensure all components are online and working as they should.
If your organization’s IT is missing the mark, look back to the pillars and determine where you can make changes. If you have questions or need the perspective of IT experts, contact us today to chat.