Patients want information instantaneously, every time, and healthcare facilities must deliver

Today, a patient walking into a hospital has very specific expectations: hospital staff should instantaneously know who they are and every last detail of their medical history. Treatment plans should be electronically communicated and available to the patient immediately, and prescriptions and billing are expected to be available via the internet. Medical technology should effectively enable this expectation, offering the correct information and results in real-time, every time, driving an effortless and frictionless patient experience.

There is infinite power behind the evolution of information technology that will continue to impact healthcare organizations in ways that are upending the industry, not to mention the expectations of patients and medical professionals. The Age of the Patient has taken over, both operationally and technologically, and medical facilities who are quick to adapt will see significant growth, while those that hesitate to adapt will fall behind.

Flexential recently carried out The Flexential 2nd National IT Trends in Healthcare study, which determined that real-time healthcare systems and related components such as EMR/EHR system implementations and telemedicine as an initiative have become a game-changing priority among healthcare organizations.

The study revealed the following trends related to RTHS:

  • yTechnology is guided by how well it works for the people using it, thus user adoption and alignment with business objectives are key challenges for healthcare IT decision makers
  • Medical records aggregation and interoperability of systems for better communication between healthcare systems and doctors/patients are major projects
  • EMR/EHR system implementations and integrations are top priorities, but involve huge project scopes for hospitals integrating more than one system
  • Telemedicine has been adopted by nearly half of healthcare organizations, and one-third are planning to implement soon, with the expectation for improved patient satisfaction and increased competitive advantage

Healthcare organizations are now evaluated based upon patient satisfaction, and cannot afford to sacrifice efficiency or successful execution of patient initiatives due to challenges with availability or uptime.

Downtime at a hospital: The grim cost(s)

Now that patients and insurance companies expect complete medical information on-the-spot for every healthcare engagement, electronic records and the IT systems that support them need to make the availability of data automatic.

The healthcare industry is complicated, and it relies on data for every administrative task from clinical metrics to billing and reporting. If an outage occurs, business overall and care are disrupted, which causes their own set of damaging consequences. The financial costs are staggering. According to the 2016 Ponemon Institute/Emerson Network Power report, healthcare organizations face average costs of $918,000 per outage incident. [1]

Clearly, healthcare organizations are not the kind of business that can afford downtime. Plus, when downtime occurs in a healthcare organization, the cost spans far more than negative financial impacts. Ensuring the redundancy and resiliency of a hospital is not only about preventing the loss of access; it’s about life and death. If a medical facility’s systems go down, patient risk goes up exponentially. It may be costly to shore up IT systems to meet the demands of a hospital, but the cost pales in comparison next to the value of a patient’s life.

The technology and infrastructure behind a hospital’s IT department determine an organization’s level of success with meeting patient demands, keeping pace with change, and frankly, preventing disastrous repercussions of downtime or lack of availability. Robust cloud and hosting services are key in facilitating the ongoing evolution of the healthcare industry while supporting innovation to enhance patient care, quality and safety. While technology services take place behind-the-scenes, IT professionals are responsible for powering applications efficiently, storing data securely and aiding healthcare organizations in meeting the demands of industry and government compliance requirements. Availability has to be 100%, and uptime is imperative. A cord in a data center does not merely power systems operations, but patient lives.

[1] Ponemon Institute, LLC. (2016, January). Cost of Data Center Outages January 2016 Data Center Performance Benchmark Series [Industry report].