IT plays a crucial role in nearly every industry today and that includes healthcare. This post explores how that market operates, why it is so important and how an organization might look out outsourcing some of these services. The healthcare industry has been outsourcing IT for decades now for a number of reasons. While we might not think of healthcare as being traditionally IT based, the reality is that it actually involves a lot of IT solutions for a range of different purposes.
IT in healthcare can first and foremost be administrative. Medical staff need to be able to manage appointments and bookings, to order new supplies as needed and to manage availability of beds and of other resources.
This technology is similar to that used in hospitality – the difference of course is that if something should go wrong, it could potentially lead to the loss of life or inadequate care being provided.
Huge amounts of statistics are also needed in healthcare. This includes ‘clinical coding’ which involves writing up doctors notes to add to databases. These are used in patient records as well as in providing stats and reports on global health trends and demographics. IT is of course also used by a number of applications used to treat patients. These include life support systems, health monitoring, CAT and MRI scans and much more.
By outsourcing many of these IT services: from tech support to purchasing/acquisitions to data management, hospitals and other healthcare facilities can reduce costs and improve efficiency.
Find more statistics at Statista
These days IT is an incredibly integral part of any business and as we’ve seen, healthcare is no different. Even if the product or service you provide has no online aspect, you will still in all likelihood use a computer for communicating with your staff and your clients, for promoting yourself online and for ordering products and services. But if that's all you're doing with your computer then really you should be doing much more - and again this is even if your business is not directly IT related.
This is why it's so important to communicate with the IT department in any company - not just so that you can solve problems and buy the right devices, but also so that you can be sure you are using your technology to the fullest and not missing any opportunities.
So what kinds of questions are crucial for organizations in any industry when using IT outsourcing?
'What Technology Developments Do We Need to be Aware of and When Will Our Current Hardware Become Obsolete?'
Technology is moving all the time and just because your tech works doesn't mean it doesn't need replacing. If you aren't currently using slate/hybrid devices for instance, then there's a chance that you could be missing out on a technology that would be very practical and that would make your hardware appear more modern to guests and business partners. Rather than waiting for your hardware to become slow and outdated, make sure that you're aware of what's out there now, whether it can benefit you, and if not, when you will need to upgrade (so you can start budgeting if nothing else). Slate computers are particularly useful in healthcare where they can be used for upright computing, to offer better bedside care and note taking for visitors and patients.
'Are There Any Other Products or Programs That Could be Useful for Us?'
Even if you're not going to completely replace your main computer systems or networks, you may still be able to benefit from other purchases of hardware accessories/utilities, or of software. For instance, it may be that you need to upgrade your Microsoft Office, that your staff could work better with multiple monitors or a more responsive mouse. Maybe you could benefit from a better projector or video conferencing program? IT doesn't just mean the computers themselves, and again you should think ahead on this front too.
In healthcare, this might mean switching hardware or software. Maybe there are faster and more accurate ways to input and manage that data.
'What Are the Most Common IT Problems in Our Industry and How Can We Combat Them?'
In the spirit of preparedness, you should also aim to take the 'prevention is better than cure' approach to your IT problems. If your IT services are constantly dealing with spyware or if they're constantly dealing with overheating, then rather than getting them to solve the problem every time, ask them how it could be prevented. That might mean investing in a better fan for the tower in your desktop computers, or it might mean sending your staff on a course to help them avoid malware.
There is a lot of highly sensitive data in healthcare and protecting this should be a top priority.
'Could We Benefit From In-House Software?'
We've talked a lot already about buying new programs and hardware in order to work faster and more efficiently, but what if there's really none out there? Well in that case, you might want to consider making your own. This is something that a lot of the most innovative and effective companies do - simply find which parts of your daily workload could most easily be automated by software and then create something that fulfils that role. For instance, this might mean a bespoke database for recording data about patients, or bespoke software for managing supplies.
This way you've created a force multiplier that will enable your staff to increase their output without actually working any harder or any longer. More to the point, it will allow them to focus on the creative part of their job rather than the fiddly part - which is after all what we need human employees for in the first place.
‘Can we outsource or process fix?’
If there is any job that is being carried out repeatedly by staff that doesn’t require the specialist knowledge of a doctor, nurse or even clinical coder – then could that same process be a) automated b) improved or c) outsourced entirely?