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Global Healthcare Megatrends: Technical landscape

  • Toby C. Samo, MD, FACP
  • 05/15/2014

There are more than 7 billion people on the planet today. Our growing global population has triggered some of the biggest healthcare challenges we’ll ever face. Listening to clients in Australia, Canada, Singapore, United Kingdom and United States, I believe many of these issues are universal. This is the fourth post in a five-part series that explores the clinical, population health, financial, regulatory and technical challenges we share as a global healthcare community.

Once they move from paper to electronic, healthcare organizations aren’t looking back. Both providers and patients are embracing technology as never before:

Electronic Medical Record (EMR) adoption steadily rising. A recent whitepaper estimates continued improvements around the world. It estimates Australia to be among the leaders at a 78% adoption rate, while the United States has the highest projected growth rate to 62%.

Patients are more receptive to the benefits of technology. A recent global study finds that patient attitude toward healthcare technology is overwhelmingly positive. Eight out of 10 respondents are willing to anonymously share personal health data to lower healthcare costs.

We’ll continue to see more and more IT systems worldwide, which generates universal questions. Are they effectively sharing data? Can we improve interfaces and messaging? How do we get to a single virtual patient record?

Because, as discussed in my earlier clinical and population health management posts, caregivers are taking care of patients that may move in and out of their population or country. Yet they are still responsible for providing the best care possible for that patient.

Rising demand for qualified healthcare IT candidates

According to the World Health Organization, there is a global healthcare workforce shortage of about 7.2 million workers. While this report focuses more on clinicians, the shortage is also prevalent in the healthcare IT workforce – from programmers to managers to senior leadership. A recent U.S. survey found that 2 out of 3 healthcare Chief Information Officers reported staff shortages.

Healthcare organizations are competing for qualified candidates. More and more organizations recognize the importance of having an IT leader with vision.

Availability anytime, anywhere

We are becoming an increasing mobile world. Walk down the street in any country – including developing nations – and you’ll see people constantly using their smartphones. People use them in all kinds of innovative ways to work, play, learn and live.

Mobile devices won’t replace complex work, but they are a disruptive technology in health care. Organizations around the world are pursing better ways to incorporate mobility.

As we become more reliant on electronic systems in health care, it also becomes increasingly important to have highly available, redundant systems in place. It’s inconvenient to lose an Internet connection when you’re looking for directions to a restaurant; it’s potentially life-threatening to a clinician looking for information about a patient’s medication.

Many costly initiatives are underway to ensure reliable systems. For example, the Singapore Ministry of Health mandated high availability, redundant systems in all of the country’s clusters (i.e., health systems) by the end of 2014. These efforts may be in the background, they are a vital part of implementation.

What are the top technical issues that your healthcare organization is facing today?

Editor’s Note: Dr. Samo’s other posts address Global Healthcare Megatrends inincluding clinicalpopulation healthfinancial and regulatory.

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About the author

As Allscripts Chief Medical Officer, International, Toby helps establish long-term clinical strategy and short-term priorities for Allscripts solutions. Additionally, he is responsible for executive-level and physician sales support. He is also the single point of accountability for customer experience, business performance and solutions roadmap and the forward looking strategy of the clinical solutions for International Markets. He is also the Patient Safety Officer for Allscripts. Previously, Toby was Medical Director of Information Technology at The Methodist Hospital (Houston, TX), a long-time Allscripts client, and Vice President of Medical Informatics at Physia Corporation. Prior to these positions, Toby has had a long career in private practice as an Infectious Disease physician.

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