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Report: Health IT Leaders Say Their Infrastructure Isn’t Prepared for Evolution of EHRs

October 13, 2014
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Healthcare organizations expect big gains, but aren't currently equipped to handle the technology

While many providers have implemented or plan to implement future care-enabling  technologies (cloud, big data, mobile, and social) in the next two years, 96 percent of healthcare organizations say their infrastructure is not fully prepared for the evolution of their electronic health record (EHR) today, according to a new report.

The report from MeriTalk, an online community for government and healthcare IT issues, and sponsored by the Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC Corporation, included 151 hospital IT decision makers. The study explored how future care-enabling technologies are driving profound change and how deployment of these tools can help optimize EHRs for improved patient care coordination.

When asked how prepared their infrastructure is for the evolution of the EHR, just four percent of respondents stated that they are already prepared—96 percent have more work to do. To optimize the EHR and ensure the infrastructure can support further growth, health IT leaders say they will enhance security systems (47 percent), improve application performance (38 percent), invest in cloud solutions (31 percent), and modernize backup and recovery solutions (31 percent).

The report revealed that two-thirds of healthcare providers run EHR applications in the cloud, with the majority currently using private cloud models (49 percent), followed by hybrid and public clouds (35 percent).

Healthcare providers are also using big data and analytics in conjunction with their EHR, with 50 percent saying big data is helping them to reduce readmissions, and track and evaluate patient outcomes more effectively.  Providers are also using big data to conduct cost/benefit analysis to reduce project risk (46 percent), manage clinical and IT staffing levels (38 percent), and prescribe preventative care (24 percent). 

Mobile and social technologies are also starting to make an impact on healthcare providers, according to the report.  Fifty-seven percent of health IT leaders say mobile has become an important tool in viewing real-time patient information as caregivers work toward making more informed patient care decisions.  Additional mobile use cases include clinical notifications (46 percent), e-prescribing (41 percent), and patient communication and reminders (38 percent).  Fifty-four percent of organizations are also using social in conjunction with their EHR to facilitate secure collaboration; 52 percent are communicating with patients and sending medication/follow up reminders; and 31 percent are collecting data from wearable technology. 

Health IT leaders expect 2015 IT spending to increase for all four areas—cloud, big data, mobile, and social. As a result of these technology investments, U.S. hospitals expect to save billions in annual IT spending. By 2016, healthcare providers anticipate:

  • Big data can help them save 21 percent of their annual IT budget, or $7.2B
  • Cloud can help them save 20 percent of their annual IT budget, or $6.9B
  • Mobile can help them save 16 percent of their annual IT budget, or $5.5B
  • Social can help them save 11 percent of their annual IT budget, or $3.8B
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