The importance of a strong IT foundation has become apparent during this COVID-19 crisis. In order to quickly roll out telehealth, contact tracing, remote working and other technologies, healthcare organizations need to have a robust, IT infrastructure. But what elements are needed? And should CIOs be concerned about the “IT spaghetti” that could result from rapid implementation of new technologies?
I recently sat down with Mike Riley, US Vice President of Healthcare, Government and Education Sales for Logicalis to discuss these questions and talk about “foundational IT”.
Just in time information
Riley feels that the most important part of IT is enabling seamless access to “just in time information,” which he defines as getting the right patient information to the right clinician at the right time, no matter where the information is located. To achieve this, there must be good foundational IT in place, with as many systems as possible (old and new), working in harmony.
“The technology piece is really arterial to the way the information flows. If there is a blockage, the information doesn’t get from point A to point B,” Riley points out. Logicalis plays in this foundational layer and Riley has seen first-hand what good and bad information flow looks like.
More IT foundation elements needed
One trend that Riley has been noticing is the increased need for bandwidth from healthcare organizations. This isn’t all that surprising given that hospitals and other healthcare organizations have been rapidly deploying telehealth platforms during this COVID-19 pandemic. Specialties such as dermatology and orthopedics, for example, need high definition video to inspect the skin and wounds of patients who are remote.
Another trend is the need for improved security of patient information. This is welcome news for privacy advocates and patients alike who have long been concerned over the lack of attention being paid to this aspect of electronic medical records. While Riley acknowledges there is no “security magic bullet”, the team at Logicalis are working with their healthcare customers to assess where they are, find the gaps, and put together an action plan that closes those gaps as quickly as possible. Of course, the plan must match the budget and capabilities of the organization. There is no point in developing a premium plan when it cannot be implemented in the middle of a crisis.
Riley also sees an increasing focus on cloud adoption, population health and “technologies that go beyond the four walls of a healthcare organization”.
IT spaghetti – forget about it
The pace of change in Health IT has always been fast. COVID-19 has made the rate of change even faster. In the rush to implement new systems and handle new situations (like temporary field hospitals), it is likely that CIOs and CMIOs will look at their IT infrastructure when this pandemic is over and realize they have “IT spaghetti” on their hands. Riley says don’t worry about it.
“After we get through this thing (COVID-19) and we have a mess of spaghetti on the plate, you can then slow down and take inventory of what you have,” said Riley. “Once you have that inventory you can assess how the various technologies align to the strategic plan.”
According to Riley, that planning process is not happening right now and rightfully so. The focus remains on taking care of patients and the community.
“Healthcare is a service industry, and in this situation, you have to go out and take care of people,” said Riley. “We will figure out the technology and realign to the strategy later.”
During our conversation, Riley shared an interesting story about how the Logicalis team jumped in to help one of their larger healthcare customers during this pandemic. This customer needed to set up remote drive-through COVID-19 testing sites at various locations around the city – something that neither the customer nor Logicalis had done before.
“That request came out of left field,” explains Riley. “We had no playbook to follow so we just had to figure it out. We called our engineers in, explained the situation and they all volunteered to go out into the field and help. This was during the time when there were challenges getting PPE for non-healthcare workers and our team went in anyways because they knew how important this was to the community.”
Watch the video to learn more about:
- What providers are investing in now in terms of healthcare IT
- Why helping the clinical side understand the value of IT is key to getting your project green lit
- Where healthcare organizations are investing in technology infrastructure
To learn more about Logicalis, visit their website at https://www.us.logicalis.com/.
This article is part of the #HealthIT100in100
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