Stage 2 Meaningful Use Shouldn’t Be a Nightmare for CIOs

July 1, 2015

Strategic moves can help make Stage 2 Meaningful Use an easier transition.

Remember the golden days of health care IT? Once upon a time, before the advent of clinical applications, the work was well organized and rational. IT supported enterprise-wide financial and administrative applications that were mostly transactional in nature. If the system had to be taken down for a few hours at night for maintenance, it was no big deal.

Those days are a distant dream. Health care CIOs are working on high wire without a net, supporting a hundred or more proprietary applications in clinical settings where downtime can cause critical delays in patient care. And it’s about to get even more complex.

Stage 2 of Meaningful Use criteria, accountable care organizations, and outcomes-based contracting require sharing of sensitive data among stakeholders. This universe has expanded to those who have not traditionally been customers of enterprise IT – outside physicians and patients adding two distinct challenges: integrating data from external proprietary systems and combining a high level of access with a high level of security.

And if the anxiety of managing all that isn’t already keeping you up at night, the knowledge that your organization’s bottom line depends on your IT strategy should do the trick. It’s a wonder that hospital CIOs are getting any sleep at all.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"38977","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_2568057762697","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"3916","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"height: 300px; width: 200px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: right;","title":"Mitchell Goldburgh, Global Solutions Manager – Clinical Archive Services, Dell Healthcare and Life Sciences ","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

Reduce the Risk with Vendor-neutral Architecture
While the simple, low-risk days of managing transactional mainframes may be a thing of the past, it is possible to at least simplify management of your imaging applications and data and reduce the risks in this area. A transition to an application-independent data management approach and a managed service moves the risks of security, integration, and data sharing to a dedicated group that is expert at these functions. This can ensure data is accessible and systems can be more easily integrated, reducing risk of failure and improving clinician and patient satisfaction.

Transitioning from single-vendor solutions offers other advantages as well: it eases adoption of new technologies, simplifies unforeseen integrations, and adapts more readily to evolving regulatory requirements. It also reduces the number of workflows and viewing systems the IT department must manage, and unifies the access point, which means permissions, password resets, and other administrative tasks are managed in one workflow rather than many.

Prepare Your Data for Enterprise-wide Analytics
Beyond the need to aggregate patient data and simplify IT is the need to integrate data across clinical and business systems, as well as integrate internal data with data from outside sources to feed systems for population health, predictive analytics, and operational and financial analytics. The market changes that are driving the need for collaboration are also driving the need to adopt sophisticated analytics. A vendor-neutral data management strategy reduces the difficulty of preparing data for analytics.

The bottom line for IT departments is that data can no longer be stored in silos with single-vendor solutions. While the need to meet the Meaningful Use criteria and earn incentive payments adds urgency to the push toward accessibility and sharing, the longer-term need is headed in the same direction.

Adding a Cloud Component Reduces Risks of Provisioning and Security
If the managed, unified, clinical architecture begins with an onsite presence and provides a cloud component, you gain further benefits. One of the big issues in health care going digital is the speed at which the volume of data is growing. This makes accurate provisioning of storage difficult and costly. You either end up with expensive capacity that isn’t being used or with insufficient capacity. Also, investing in the capacity to keep all your data onsite can lock you into current hardware technology and eliminate your ability to take advantage of the next leap forward.

A hybrid architecture creates opportunity for provisioning storage and disaster recovery that ebbs and flows with your organizational changes. A strong solution can provide high performance locally, while allowing you to invest in more and better solutions that can expand to meet the clinical lines of business. A cloud component means that IT can be used to integrate organizations dynamically, which builds broader perspectives of patient care across the continuum with enhanced data capture and archive in the unified clinical architecture.

A good partner can also deliver security expertise and tools for securely managing in-house, mobile, and BYOD access that is difficult for individual organizations to afford. Many of the major health care data breaches in recent years have taken place because health care organizations neglect basic security measures. It’s a myth that cloud storage is less secure than onsite storage; if the vendor is carefully chosen, your security will be consistently monitored and your data protected.

While no solution can return health care IT to a state of simplicity, a managed, unified clinical archiving system can be a good tool to unify data capture, enhance system security and access, and provide disaster recovery, bringing order to some of the chaos. Moreover, having the right partner with a managed, vendor-neutral clinical and image archive system as part of your organization will create a stronger, more complete picture for the patients and physicians you serve, with improved outcomes for all involved.