Healthcare IT has long been accused of being 10 years behind other industries, with hospitals being another five years behind that. This cliché has been around for so long, it is almost an axiom. And while (like with most clichés) there is, unfortunately, more than a bit of truth, we firmly believe that with the growing push and pull demands of healthcare mobility, this cliché’s days are numbered.
Mobility in healthcare will place demands on IT that will both force upgrades and elevate IT’s business impact in ways never seen before – thus making upgrade funding possible. Just a few examples:
- mHealth applications that can enable direct entry, which boosts clinician productivity and revenue potential
- Gamification that provides uniquely engaging ways to distill care information and entice people into improved wellness
- Cost savings, and patient comfort benefits, from remote viewing and remote sensors
Clearly, mobility will strain existing capabilities on not only wireless infrastructure but also servers and most substantially the data integration structures, in order to provide timely and accurate information as individuals move within facilities and across the country. Thus, the push is on to update and upgrade IT.
But while there have always been “pushes” on IT (demand always exceeds budgets), what makes us optimistic that the upgrades will actually begin to catch-up with other industries is the emerging “pull” from the business side of healthcare. A recent anecdote well illustrates this potential for IT transformation. A nursing home/assisted living operator approved a system-wide installation and upgrade across its facilities to support mobile data entry. Given the tight margins and the very thin IT budgets (typically less than one percent of revenue), this major initiative was demanded and funded by clinical operations, and cost justified by a one percent increase in therapist billable hours.
As this and the other examples above suggest, there are major direct business benefits from instituting robust and useful healthcare mobility.