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Fresh Tech-Based Concerns Show No Time for Complacency

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, June 3, 2014

IT leaders at healthcare providers are under siege. ROI, legacy systems, cloud software, and the EHR wars are a few of their current concerns.

I'm at the annual Health Datapalooza in Washington D.C., where executives from provider organizations are few in number and the vibe is all about payers, app and website developers, patients, physicians, and government regulators feasting on the latest batch of hospital cost data. The event appears to have doubled in size from last year. From this vantage, it's hard to view traditional healthcare providers as anything but under siege. Here are a few concerns bubbling up:

1. When hospitals install fancy hardware such as a da Vinci surgical system, it doesn't look good for the ROI on that system if it isn't getting used. CMS' 2012 batch of hospital payment data may bring to light evidence that surgical procedures that could be done well enough without such gear are deliberately being crowded out by procedures using the magical technology at hand, in order to justify someone's return on investment for purchasing the fancy hardware in the first place. If they are not already doing so, hospitals and payers must deploy oversight systems to make sure that high-tech intervention isn't conducted unnecessarily.

2. At the same time, outdated gear such as infusion pumps will continue to haunt hospitals if those legacy systems prove to be underperforming or unsafe. Last weekend, I attended the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation conference in Philadelphia and was shocked to learn that many facilities do not have accurate inventories of the gear they do possess. When medical equipment faces a product recall, too many facilities have to scramble or guess if they have such equipment and where it might be. A good real-time location services (RTLS) system will permit such inventories to happen quickly. Consider investing in one if you haven't already.

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