The healthcare industry is changing at a rapid pace, and new technology is the driving force behind this revolution. The forecast for the future sees a world of shared provider knowledge, standardized, consolidated patient data and efficiency across the board. But tomorrow’s predictions can’t come to fruition using yesterday’s applications and systems.
That’s why modernization plays a key role in the transformation of healthcare IT. Legacy and application modernization projects are helping healthcare organizations everywhere improve effectiveness and efficiency, at the same time, lowering the cost of system maintenance and development — which will ultimately benefit both employees and patients.
Make no mistake — modernization is never an easy undertaking. In fact, the biggest challenge facing any IT organization — in any industry — is facilitating change. Healthcare is no exception; the No. 1 reason healthcare organizations hang on to legacy applications is because users, out of convenience and habit, gravitate toward familiar systems to access patient information and records and to manage data.
Other, more specific challenges to healthcare modernization projects include:
- Compliance to changing, complex regulatory standards
- Management of expensive core IT systems
- Lack of agility to accommodate change
- Leveraging older systems and processes to drive next-generation tools and technology
That last point is particularly salient, because the legacy applications that are part of hospital and clinical operations can also be part of a modernization plan. Application modernization does not necessarily require an entirely new IT infrastructure and application architecture, and can accommodate IT investments in emerging technological improvements such as payer services applications, cloud computing, virtualization and more.
Three things can bring success to your modernization project: assessment, investment and training.
First, there’s assessment. Healthcare IT systems are complex, to say the least. A modernization project that begins with a comprehensive assessment of applications and architecture can break down this complexity. You should consider the function, the cost and technical impact of each critical application. And you should identify redundant applications, as well as those things that just don’t work. From there, cost savings and efficiencies can be identified.
Second, there’s investment. (And if we’re talking budgets, it’s easier said than done.) When all stakeholders are part of the planning process from the beginning, they can understand why time and resources spent on modernization are well worth the effort. Electronic medical records are a great example of this — an EMR project, once implemented, makes patient information easier to access and share, with a fast and impactful return on investment.
And finally, training is critical. Remember, employees tend to shy away from new technology or processes because they prefer the familiar. That’s why the proper training of staff can make or break a modernization project. Chances are, once employees at all levels and jobs see first-hand the benefits and efficiencies of new technology, they won’t miss the old system at all.
The healthcare landscape is changing rapidly, and legacy modernization is a huge factor in the do’s and don’ts of information technology. As it continues to evolve, applications and systems must grow with it. When done right, it’s part of a bright future for providers, payers and patients alike.
This series examines the market trends in application modernization in a variety of industries and institutions.
- 1Efficiency drives K-12 IT modernization projects
- 2Legacy modernization helps healthcare move forward
- 3Application modernization is a top federal priority