When a number of industries were going through really tough times, the healthcare industry was one of the few industries staying strong during the harsh economic times. While the economy slowly recovers, the healthcare industry continues to show its strength in implementing and investing in technology. Some of the preliminary trends in healthcare include rising healthcare costs, rising insurance premiums, consolidation, increased specialization in care, meeting HIPAA compliancy and growing remote and home healthcare services. Many of these trends are leading to more mobile, robust, and remote access services for hospitals and clinic systems. Some of these industry trends are leading into the following technology trends and drivers:
- Increased need to cross communicate — nurses, doctors, administration, laboratories, insurance and patients
- HIPAA requirements and regulations drive secure transport and electronic medical records (EMR)
- Improving the ability to share patient data and imaging is driving the PACs, imaging storage and high speed bandwidth markets
- Mobility needs of doctors and nurses and proliferation of handhelds in hospitals drives wireless local area networking and wireless services
- Better and more efficient communications between insurance providers and medical facilities drives broadband and high speed services
- Internet is a major driver of patient information and customer services, especially for Web-based patient services.
Web-based patient services will allow patients to pre-register for services, administer claims queries, schedule appointments, obtain MD referrals and view test results. Wireless services are becoming a more respected and reliable way of communicating in the hospital, primarily driven by the younger generation of doctors and nurses who started using their personal wireless devices to communicate. Wireless devices and services are enabling doctors and nurses to communicate more effectively, administer prescriptions while reducing errors, obtain access to patient information and also receive alerts when a patient is in need. Many telecom carriers are looking at the healthcare vertical as a top industry in technology investment. In-Stat/MDR is seeing growth in technology spending, where healthcare has primarily been a lower spender on telecom and IT compared to some of the other verticals. BellSouth and Cisco, for example, were primary vendors for St. Vincent hospital in Birmingham, AL, which installed a wireless LAN with 150+ access points. This is enabling St. Vincent’s workers to access real time and historical clinical data via wireless devices anywhere, any time, as well as wirelessly administering bedside registration. Cisco is also continuing to improve its “Medical Grade Network” product that promises the delivery of a responsive, protected, resilient and interactive network for hospitals and clinics.
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