IT is a good investment- especially for healthcare organizations. A study conducted in 2007 by the Florida State University revealed that patients treated in hospitals which employed IT systems had better health outcomes. While the benefits offered by IT systems are quite apparent, managing an increasing number of computers and other devices and the information they hold, poses significant challenges mainly concerning information security. Here are the top three challenges that healthcare organizations should be prepared to tackle:
· Challenge 1 – Securing the Growing Volumes of Electronically Stored Medical Records: With PCs and mobile devices quickly replacing traditional patient charts, the number of electronic medical records (EMRs) has skyrocketed. And with multiple systems and networked devices, security becomes a huge concern. Determining access rights, implementing effective controls, and managing change can be immensely challenging. Moreover, many healthcare organizations extend beyond a single physical location for off-site services, home-health services etc. In such cases, EMRs are constantly on the move and security of databases and network systems is a major challenge.
· Challenge 2 - Issues Concerning Data Storage: With EMRs multiplying every day, data storage is a growing concern. Hence online, and offline data storage, and storage virtualization are adopted to tackle the problem of data storage. However, these solutions may further add to the security concern if carefully defined data storage policies are not in place. And to manage and improve the storage environment, which stores the enormous amount of medical data generated every day, healthcare organizations have to adopt a centralized and standardized storage management solution. And identifying such a solution by itself is a challenge.
· Challenge 3 - Compliance with Multiple Changing Regulations: Storage of large volumes of medical records brings with it several risks, and consequently a number of compliance issues. Governing access to sensitive data, keeping track of who has access, when and how, and who can retrieve and process confidential records are all concerns surrounding security and compliance. With more and more stringent regulations laid down by the government in the form of HITECH, HIPAA compliance etc, healthcare compliance is now a major concern.
Irrespective of these challenges, healthcare entities cannot neglect the role of technology in providing superior services in patient care. While on the one hand the healthcare industry has to adopt technological solutions to provide better medical services, on the other they have to abide by HIPAA HITECH compliance. By employing a comprehensive, automated compliance solution, healthcare entities can enjoy the benefits offered by technology while also mitigating the risks that it may pose.