Are Doctors Behind the Eight Ball When it Comes to Telemedicine, Cloud Computing?
The complaints about healthcare not updating to current technology trends have persisted for years, especially with regard to patient records and hospital protocols with medications, surgery check lists, etc. Of course, Big Pharma and the medical devices industries make sure hospitals, especially university centers are state of the art. It is with smaller health care providers that there has been a greater lag time with technologies.
The good news is that healthcare is embracing the use of smart phones, tablets and mobile EHRs according to 3rd Annual Healthcare IT Insights and Opportunities Study by CompTIA. But when it comes to teleconferencing and cloud computing, healthcare is lagging. To formulate its conclusions, CompTIA conducted "interviews and relied on separate online surveys with 350 doctors, dentists, and other healthcare providers or administrators and 400 IT firms with healthcare IT practices."
Research shows that mobile devices are used in the office for maintaining schedules, appointments and interacting with nurses. But because providers must qualify how to use tablets and smartphones to retrieve records securely, they are still working out their understanding of such issues, according to Tim Herbert, CompTIA's VP of research.
"Some healthcare providers, especially the smaller practices, are likely not fully aware of all the various security vulnerabilities associated with mobile devices such as unencrypted data, mobile malware, transmitting data via an open Wi-Fi hotspot, and the need for remote data wiping capabilities."
One-third of providers answering the survey currently engage their smartphones or tablets to access electronic health records (EHRs). Another 20% of providers intend to apply their use within the next year.
But cloud computing and telemedicine are generally little used especially amongst smaller medical practices in the United States. A completely accurate read was not forthcoming, however, because some providers may use cloud-based applications, like software, as a service and they might not consider this cloud computing. So though only 5% said they used cloud computing technology, the number is probably larger.
"Like other enterprises, hospitals have substantial investments in infrastructure and sometimes proprietary systems. Moving or integrating these systems into a cloud infrastructure-as-a-service environment may pose significant challenges." Herbert said. "Some hospitals may serve as a hub with various physicians, specialists, labs, pharmacists, and others connected to it. Consequently, there may be interoperability and interconnectivity requirements for any move to the cloud--not an impossible hurdle to overcome, but another factor that could slow the transition to the cloud for some healthcare practices."Continued on the next page