In 2011, we'll see EHRs reach the adoption phase, data centers get virtualized, stand-alone medical devices connect to EHRs and m-health take off, according to industry experts.
As we move into 2011, the
Obama administration's meaningful-use requirements governing health care IT and
EHRs (electronic health records) will continue to influence how health care
companies adopt technology to improve patient care.
In 2010, companies began to purchase EHR applications, but in the coming year health care companies will
enter an adoption phase for EHR or EMR (electronic medical record) applications,
predicts IDC in an upcoming report.
"While purchasing and selection will continue for many providers, early adopters will begin to
struggle with the challenges of implementation and adoption of EMRs in
2011," wrote IDC analysts Judy Hanover and Lynne A. Dunbrack.
As adoption of EHRs heats up, Shahid Shah, CEO of IT consulting firm Netspective Communications and
author of the Healthcare IT Guy
blog, shared with eWEEK his top 5 predictions for the health care IT industry
1: Health care IT departments will increasingly adopt virtualization
As the amount of data grows along with the adoption of EHR applications, health care companies, especially newer
firms, will aim to virtualize their servers to prepare for a cloud environment,
according to Shah.
"The number of servers is growing and the number of data centers is growing, and that's going to force
the hand of most CIOs who have stuck to physical servers to start really moving
to virtual servers and somewhat into the cloud," he said. "I see the
move to virtualization first, then the cloud, just like we do in every other
EMC and its VMware subsidiary were active in this area in 2010, establishing virtual private clouds in
various hospitals, including Orange
Regional Medical Center
, in Middletown, N.Y., and Northern
Hospital of Surry County
, in Mount Airy, N.C.
2: Stand-alone medical devices will become more
integrated in IT strategy and priorities
A recent survey conducted by HIMSS Analytics and sponsored by communications technology company Latronix
found that only one-third of hospitals surveyed had an "active
interface" between medical devices and an EHR. The connection between
these devices and electronic records will grow in 2011, and they'll become more
an essential component of health care IT, Shah predicts.
"Medical device companies are feeling the heat from the CIOs that these are expensive devices, and they should be
part of the hospital's IT infrastructure, not just sitting outside on the
floor," Shah said. "Medical device connectivity is heating up. Stand-alone
medical devices will no longer be the norm; connected devices will be," he
Medical devices such as blood glucose meters will incorporate connectivity such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi,
cellular and ZigBee, a low-cost, low-power, wireless mesh standard, Shah said.
These stand-alone devices will now be manufactured with this connectivity built in, rather than as an
add-on, he said.
Companies that make these stand-alone medical devices include CareFusion, GE Healthcare and Philips
In addition to wireless connectivity, medical devices are now incorporating greater compatibility with
general IT equipment such as printers.
In August, Epson America and Philips announced that the latter company's ultrasound medical imaging
equipment would be compatible
with Epson inkjet and WorkForce printers
using a universal print driver
3: Identity and access management will be essential tools
in fighting data breaches
With the increasing number of data breaches in health care and other industries, a single log-in for multiple
databases will be vital to centralize IAM (identity access management), Shah