IT will be growth driver for health care industry

The future of the health care industry is very much dependent on how it utilizes technology, so much in fact that a recent IDC report predicted that organizations will have to rely on IT to address a number of critical needs moving forward. The research firm said that new business models will be responsible for at least half of all future health care IT growth.

Scott Lundstrom, group vice president at IDC Health Insights, asserted that the health care field is being tasked to change its operations at a rapid pace.

“The way they deliver care to patients, the way they are paid, and the way they own and operate IT are all changing in response to healthcare reform and the emergence of accountable care,” Lundstrom said. “To survive, health organizations need to become agile businesses that deliver high quality patient outcomes at a reduced cost. Information technology will play a key role in delivering these improvements.”

So which technologies may emerge as critical to the health care field in 2014? Cloud computing may be one of the solutions health providers will rely on on heavily this year. IDC predicted that an underinvestment in proper business continuity and disaster recovery services will prompt more health organizations to adopt cloud services.

The cloud allows firms to migrate mission-critical data to an off-site location where this information is accessible through the Internet. The fact that natural disasters, human error and other disruptions severely impact operational efficiency, it is effective keeping such resources out of harm’s way and always available.

Cisco improving health care collaboration
Cloud computing also allows employees to communicate anywhere, regardless of location, because it is accessible through the Internet. The cloud will likely play an even greater role in this regard moving forward, especially as organizations continue to update their IT infrastructures in favor of more agile solutions.

Cisco, well known for its Unified Communication and Collaboration (UCC) offerings, is one vendor that appears to be focusing on improving how health care organizations collaborate. The service provider launched its Extended Care solution, which is a browser-based system that allows physicians to communicate with one another in the office, at their homes or in remote locations.

David Plummer, general manager of Cisco’s Care-at-a-Distance Solutions department, highlighted the benefits of the Extended Care solution in terms of improving the relationship between patients and physicians.

“By allowing patients and their care teams the opportunity to connect for both ad hoc and prescheduled video consults, and by providing secure messaging capabilities and online questionnaires, our hospital and clinic customers will be able to operate in a more efficient manner,” Plummer said.

The health care industry will undoubtedly be challenged to keep up with changing market demands, but technology does not have to be a curse for organizations. Innovative IT solutions have the power to reshape how care is administered to patients and how physicians function in a more efficient manner.

Health care organizations that want to maximize their IT investments can do so with help from FlexITy, a leading managed service provider. The Canadian MSP offers a number of valuable services, including UCC-as-a-Service (UCCaaS) and its FlexTEL platform, which is a comprehensive voice communications, collaboration, data hosting and converged solutions suite.