“Access to capital is critical, and I know from the processes we have set up that First American will be there to cover my back. I can relax because I know I am getting the best service and it makes my job that much easier.”
-Richard Harning,VP and CFO Allegan General Hospital
In the past, technology in healthcare organizations meant a handful of computers, some digital monitoring equipment, and a few pieces of imaging equipment. In today’s healthcare environment, technology such as hybrid operating rooms, da Vinci robots and other surgical technology lines, cutting-edge ultrasound and imaging equipment, are improving care every day. Technology has never been aligned with providing care directly to the patient, and as more and more physicians are trained on these devices, it is important for organizations to invest in these new technologies. Also, every organization has some type of EMR system, where patient records, internal communications, and diagnostic results are all shared on tablets, apps and Cloud computing networks. All medical and IT equipment that stores patient data must have proper security features in place to prevent data breaches and keep data safe.
As healthcare organizations invest in new technology, they should consider the overall impact to the organization, staff, and patients. A standard set of questions should be asked each time new technology is considered. Alternatively, questions should routinely be asked about old technology, to make sure equipment does not become obsolete or outdated.
Questions to Ask About New IT:
- Will additional training for staff be needed?
- What data will be input into the equipment?
- Does the equipment sync with current systems?
- Do patients have access to the data, and if so, full access or partial access?
- Are current systems robust enough to keep data safe?
Questions to Ask About Current or Old IT:
- What is the recommended useful life?
- When was the last time the equipment was replaced or upgraded?
- Does the old technology sync with new technology?
- Are there gaps in the old technology that make data unsecure and vulnerable to attacks?
- Would new technology create efficiencies that old technology cannot match?
Ask a Healthcare CIO:
Randy McCleese, CIO at St. Claire Regional Medical Center and former member of the CHIME Board of Trustees describes how technology is impacting every aspect of healthcare, not just the IT department. McCleese comments that:
"Medical equipment is a huge issue for us. In healthcare, we tend to keep pieces of medical equipment for a number of years, sometimes even until it is 15-20 years old. When the equipment was manufactured, the security requirements for that piece of equipment were so different than security requirements today. We must pay attention to devices that are connected to the network and how much data they can share across that network into our EMR. That falls into the security because we have to make sure that they are secure and the data flowing from them are secure, so we don’t have ransomware getting into those devices."
COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION:
+ Update security on all devices.
+ Supply tablets and mobile devices for staff.
+ Replace or upgrade outdated medical equipment.
What technology does your organization use? Are you purchasing any new technology? How often do you replace/upgrade? How do you finance technology?