A Healthy IT Outlook

By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2005-11-28 Print this article Print

Opinion: Both tech testbed and data driver, the medical sector holds keys to innovation and growth.

Initiatives in digital handling of medical information, for example by the military, and driven by the lessons of large-scale natural disasters like this seasons devastating hurricanes, are going to propel many investments in service-oriented architectures--and drive new demands for secure and flexible storage. Growing awareness of the problems of medical error will lead to opportunities in the improvement of system reliability and application quality, while an aging population of medical information systems users will demand new attention to technologies promoting many different aspects of usability.

Many industries only pay lip service to the idea that "you get what you pay for," but customers and providers alike in the health care sector seem inclined to be realistic about the relationship between investment and results. Thats not to say that medicine doesnt face growing scrutiny of its costs--but even those cost reduction pressures represent, in many cases, major opportunities for IT introduction and refinement.

Health care technology and practice have long been sources of some of the best case studies available to eWEEKs analysts. Medicine adopts new technology aggressively and has a tradition of extensive discussion and peer review of new techniques, whether were talking about emergency readiness or hospital management or international assistance.

Enterprise developers and managers should take advantage of that propensity to share lessons learned in medicine that may have broad applicability elsewhere. For that matter, no enterprise of any size can safely neglect the impact of health care costs, and the ripple effects of health information handling mandates, on its human resources systems and management practices: Supply-chain opportunities and challenges will continue to reshape the outward face of enterprise IT, but the need to contain health costs and address an evolving spectrum of medical needs will define much of the enterprises internal IT agenda.

Tell me what has you running a temperature at peter_coffee@ziffdavis.com. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis in programming environments and developer tools.
Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at salesforce.com, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developers' technical requirements on the company's evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter company's first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.

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