The prognosis for IT operations in today’s healthcare organizations can be a tough pill to swallow. The ripple effect of healthcare reform is felt universally as organizations struggle to address the endless deluge of data while curbing costs and optimizing existing systems to meet operational, regulatory and patient-care delivery demands.
According to IDC FutureScape, there’s no relief is in sight. As evidence:
- 50% of life science companies, patients and providers will increase digital mobile engagement by 2019;
- adoption rates of Internet of Things-enabled systems in hospitals will double by 2020, and;
- by the end of that year, one quarter of medical data will be collected and shared with healthcare systems by the patients themselves.
A recent article in HealthCare IT News reported that healthcare organizations increasingly are moving data and apps to the cloud to alleviate the strain on capital expenditures. According to a pending 2018 Health IT trends report conducted by Black Box Research, 85% of hospital managers in facilities under 200 beds—and 57% of hospitals over 200 beds—are paring back or freezing IT CapEx investments in 2018.
Sure, moving to the cloud will ease CapEx, but the tradeoff is increased pressure on OpEx. Most healthcare and biopharma companies already face intensified cost control and budget scrutiny on both capital and operating expenditures. So, what’s the best prescription to alleviate a multitude of pain points?
Step 1: Engage a third-party partner to perform a thorough evaluation of your current IT assets
Think of this as an annual checkup. Compiling such a report delivers the “vitals” on existing IT assets. Once a baseline is achieved, any areas of weakness will be flagged for rectification. Also identified will be places and opportunities where boosting performance across all mission- and business-critical aspects of the network and/or data center are possible.
Step 2: Make sure the assessment includes a review of all existing maintenance and support contracts with all vendors or providers
Such an effort will unearth areas where cost-saving opportunities exist by highlighting equipment that may be nearing or in end-of-life (EOL) status. IT departments are used to dealing with multiple vendors, providers and contracts, so it can be a challenge to keep track of all devices as they relate to lifecycle and software updates. Seek vendor consolidation for all your maintenance needs, an all-encompassing view of the situation is the best way to put the pieces together into one comprehensive plan.
Of critical importance is examining the role third-party maintenance (TPM) can play in the support of IT assets. Opting for a hybrid strategy, where certain assets are taken off pricey manufacturer support in favor of a third-party provider, can result in savings of 50% or greater. These funds then can be earmarked for innovations that can improve efficiency and performance.
Step 3: Match all future network and data center changes to your timetable—not any manufacturers’
While manufacturers would like their customers to upgrade every piece in their networks every five years, remain firm on performing this kind of “major surgery” only when there is a real business need. As the meantime-to-failure (MTTF) rate on most networking gear is 18 to 33 years (not that we are suggesting you wait that long), there is no need to undergo rip-and-replace operations frequently. Instead, turn to third-party support for EOL equipment to avoid expensive, disruptive upgrades until the time is right or truly necessary.
A healthy dose of best practices and business savvy will go a long way to alleviating IT budget pain while empowering organizations to invest wisely in transformative innovations.
Read some of our healthcare IT case studies to learn more.