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Healthcare IT in the COVID and Post-COVID Era: Page 2 of 3

The pandemic-spurred triple threat of increased demand, decreased access, and mandatory distancing put digital transformation into overdrive. By Jennifer Oladipo
Reader ROI: 
COVID HASTENED the digital transformation of healthcare, with new IT needs arising for virtual care, remote work, and security.
CHANNEL PROS will need to navigate a culture marked by medical innovation but reluctance to change work processes.
USE CASES include virtual experiences, cloud services, business intelligence, remote desktop and help desk, and collaboration.

Identifying Technologies in Demand

Several technologies have become critical to healthcare, says Lynne Dunbrack, group vice president for public sector at IDC. These include remote health monitoring, wearables, patient mobile apps, connected medical devices, IoT or IoMT (Internet of Medical Things), videoconferencing, clinical collaboration, and unified communications.

Telehealth solutions are needed most, and regulation changes will likely foster widespread adoption. The U.S. Department of Health waived strict HIPAA privacy rules for pandemic telehealth, allowing the use of consumer and business products. Plus, telehealth reimbursements could soon be on par with in-person visits, which will likely boost adoption, says Dunbrack.

On the back end, cloud adoption also made gains. Reduced IT budgets, software applications at end-of-life, and data growing beyond the capacity of existing systems are the top three catalysts driving the use of cloud services, according to a 2020 report by IDC.

IDC found that providers wary of the privacy and security implications of migrating sensitive workloads to a public cloud prefer private clouds managed on-premises by in-house IT staff. In contrast, payers (industry jargon for insurers) are more willing to use public clouds deployed via SaaS and IaaS. Some organizations favor hybrid clouds to keep protected health information in a private environment while taking advantage of public cloud processing and storage elasticity for other workloads.

Needs Driving Use Cases

Flowing through nearly all these solutions are the promises and perils of the vast amount of data they generate. It’s a treasure trove for clinicians, administrators, and payers, but aggregating and integrating it can be difficult.

“Where is all of this data going, and how do we glean insight from it? What’s the next best action we should be making based on this data?” are questions Dunbrack says larger hospital systems and payers are asking. 

Mike Riley

In addition, hospitals now must be ready to quickly expand in every way, triggering a host of IT problems. For example, Logicalis set up a 1,000-bed COVID surge hospital in a building its client didn’t even own using technologies from hardware to wireless. Riley also expects more calls from smaller clinical settings and at-home care providers. What’s more, population health managers will rely on healthcare IT to track outbreaks, vaccinations, and immunity.

Keep in mind, remote services might be administered through payers. Use cases also include community relations, physician practice groups, and assisted living and long-term care facilities, says Dunbrack. Additionally, virtual adoption skyrocketed in behavioral health last year—likely a permanent change, she says.

Machulsky sees big opportunities in security, business continuity practices, and supply chain resilience. Additionally, new partnerships and “coopetition” among like-minded hospitals and health systems are creating new technology needs. For example, Pixel Health has begun helping some customers jointly provide services, build data centers, and procure vendors.

Supplying even basic IT services helps many hospital systems that now want their best people innovating in the digital space and redesigning healthcare delivery. That opens the door for providers of remote desktop, help desk, and infrastructure support, says Casey.

About the Author

Jennifer Oladipo's picture

JENNIFER OLADIPO is an award-winning business journalist. She’s written for national and international publications focused on science and technology sectors and has held communications positions in multiple organizations, including a Fortune 200 technology company.

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