As above, so below: Why the right healthcare IT consulting matters Posted on September 10, 2015 by Tim Burke If you work in healthcare IT, you’re probably feeling under siege from all sides — because the role of IT in healthcare is changing. Fast. Given the current cost of healthcare in the US, it’s no surprise that IT would play a key part in what’s become a national priority: Create higher value at lower cost. But that only intensifies the pressure … Pressure comes from on high, in the form of new CMS rules (CMS, for the uninitiated, runs Medicare/Medicaid and pays some 40% of the nation’s healthcare bills). These new rules are forcing adoption of electronic health records and a comprehensive rethink — much of it under deadlines — of payment models. The resulting shift in risk scenarios means you have no choice but to abandon simple spreadsheets for serious databases, analytics applications, and the complex infrastructure required to keep all the data involved reliably secure, operational, and ever-accessible. Since these rules are already improving US healthcare outcomes, this pressure will not be letting up anytime soon. Meanwhile, from below come hordes of consumer tech-toting patients eager for transparency, easier-to-use services, telemedicine, and feedback from physical monitoring devices — yet often unwilling/unable to respect the privacy and security of the data they’re generating. This, too, won’t be letting up anytime soon. By 2018, 65% of consumer healthcare transactions will be conducted via mobile devices. By 2020, 80% of healthcare data will at some point pass through a cloud. Add in the demand for collaboration/integration — thanks to increasing recognition of their opportunities and benefits — and the traditional HIT (Healthcare IT) man and woman can be overwhelmed as the role of IT in healthcare is utterly transformed. Solution: The right kind of healthcare IT consulting To keep pace, many in HIT need help understanding and then deploying effective IT solutions. Although everyone shares the same strategic goal — higher value and better outcomes at lower cost — each organization must forge its own unique tactical path to achieving that goal. For instance, how should you proceed with Meaningful Use spending? Commit to a behemoth vendor’s proprietary EHR solution? Undertake large CapEx investments in your own database infrastructure? Opt for a cloud provider — but which kind of cloud provider? As you venture into mobility capabilities and telemedicine, what expertise do you need? What’s the best way to handle security? Then there’s continuity of services: How will you ensure the availability and resilience of your systems, networks, patient data, and clinical applications? Ultimately, much of what is healthcare consulting turns out to be, in fact, healthcare IT consulting. And the best healthcare IT consulting comes from experienced, vendor-neutral technology advisors with the ability to analyze and understand each client’s unique needs — and then customize best-of-breed healthcare IT solutions to meet those needs.