Our health system is currently in the midst of a transformation that will be re-shaped by the continued adoption of information technology, and an up-to-date IT management strategy. During this transformation CIOs have the burden of continued support of legacy IT infrastructure while introducing new technologies and process adaptations necessary to deliver an agile, efficient, and highly reliable HIT infrastructure at an affordable cost.
There are several key technologies that I can see transforming our health system that resonate strongly with the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan. The overarching technology trends are the need to increase overall efficiency in health care (and thereby reduce cost) through process automation, infrastructure re-engineer and simplify HIT management based on “best practices,” that address increasing IT complexity through (interoperability) standardization.
All other major health IT trends and directions are related in some way to these three trends. In the area of automation and re-engineering for efficiency gains, healthcare industry consensus points to a near term focus on change, problem, and configuration management as the core targets. IT management is the key to understanding relationships and dependencies among components in the IT infrastructure, and just as importantly, their relationships to clinical-business process flows. Automation and re-engineering are strongly dependent on a robust IT management process supported by a broad range of accurate and timely data.
Moving forward, additional emphasis will be placed on how clinical-business processes interrelate with HIT requirements that can be optimized as a group, particularly driven by the health IT adoption towards infrastructure, process automation, and other computing model. This is driving healthcare CIO to expand their traditional resource orientation (such as networks, servers, storage, database and applications) to managing clinical-business oriented, with end-to-end HIT services. The benefits are that more healthcare IT teams will have a better understanding of clinical-business operations and the impact cause by IT resource outage so they can better prioritize operational tasks. This in turn leads to reduced downtime and shorter problem resolution time because the HIT operations team can focus on solving the correct, high-priority, clinical business-relevant issues.
The necessary requirements for an end-to-end HIT service management are robust automated infrastructure resources to clinical-business process relationship that can bring forth the realization of true end-to-end IT management that will be evolutionary from both a process and tooling perspective and will likely take four to eight years, especially without having an up-to-date IT management strategy in place.