Healthcare executives see IT as integral to patient care

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Many healthcare executives feel that IT plays an integral role in improving patient care, however concerns over cost and reliability affect upgrading and maintaining the IT infrastructure necessary to support multiple applications, according to results from the Vital STATs 2008 Survey from CDW Healthcare, released during the 2008 HIMSS conference in Orlando, Fla.

CDW Healthcare conducted the online study in January and February 2008 for healthcare IT professionals or administrators to gauge the attitudes related to the impact of IT on patient care and to document the extent to which healthcare providers have adopted various IT infrastructure solutions to support business drivers.

Of 1,345 total respondents, 41 percent indicated the importance of IT in patient care is challenged by cost or reliability issues as providers continue to expand the scope of their clinical and financial solutions, which is placing increased demands on existing infrastructure. Despite these concerns, 92 percent of respondents said their organization sees IT as an integral component to improving patient care.

A key issue driving healthcare IT is that multiple hardware solutions have been integrated into the environment over time. Chief information officers (CIOs) and healthcare providers are now looking for ways to manage the lifecycle of these different assets said Bob Rossi, senior director for CDW Healthcare in an interview with Health Imaging News.

“They are concerned with how to best maximize those assets through different virtualization not just at the server level, but through BDI or virtual desktops initiatives,” he noted. 

“Security in healthcare—authentication management and single sign-on technology—is a big issue right now,” Rossi said. Of the survey respondents, 44 percent believe that adding single sign-on technology will prove effective in enhancing patient care.

“Single sign-on technology can enhance the infrastructure necessary to support the ability of caregivers to expedite patient care with greater access to clinical solutions such as medication and positive patient identification,” said Dennis Morley, director of CDW’s Healthcare field sales operations.

Rossi said the goal of the survey was to gain relevant customer feedback regarding technologies, learn what is important to customers, and deliver a solution that can answer some of their needs.

“This survey is more like a reference guide for the industry to hopefully validate some of the solutions we are delivering today,” he said. “Are we supporting those initiatives around health IT? It is always a struggle to find good survey data around health IT trends and we hope this can be a guide.”

“As you see some applications being rolled out, there is not enough focus on the infrastructure,” he said. For example, with point of care technology and getting care to the bedside, once a user has that dependency on the device they expect it to be always on, always working. “So when you start rolling out all these devices, you must focus on the infrastructure to ensure no dead spots,” he noted.

“The concern for CIOs seems to now be how to take all of the individual infrastructures across all of these applications and integrate them,” said Rossi. “That is what we are looking at helping our customers with. CIOs are up to speed on the individual applications, but their next step is now, how do they bring it all together.”