Cloud, Mobile and Social: The perfect storm for Health IT platform modernization

The words cloud, mobile and social are now part of every dinner conversation. We store our data on Google Drive, pick up our mobile phones by the minute to check Facebook updates, and produce unprecedented amounts of data across many social networks.

For the first time ever, there is a tremendous capability to get near real time data for enterprises about customer behaviors, innovation trending, and brand engagement. Corporate IT is only now getting their heads wrapped around BYOD, and setting social network policies that no longer block sites like Facebook, opening up the doors for employee online engagement.

This perfect storm of consumer technology adoption cannot be stopped. Prohibition does not work.

In healthcare, where organizations are dealing with personal health information, social integration is a challenge above and beyond other industries. Most enterprises today are dipping their toes in the water with pilot programs that are focused on each of the technologies mentioned above. While there are a number of initiatives happening across the sub-verticals in the healthcare market, in general the industry has been slow to drive towards the eye of this storm, which is the intersection of mobile, social and cloud: where innovation is really buried.

Cloud Mobile Social

But it is in healthcare where the adoption of these technologies is needed the most. Let’s explore why that is:

1. We are no longer patients, but healthcare consumers
First and foremost, we are healthcare consumers, and we are now spoiled with real time information on our order status from Amazon, our current bank account balance at Citibank, the inventory of cars at Hertz (and the list goes on). Yet in healthcare, it is still difficult to get my patient records online, schedule an online appointment (though there is a lot of activity in that space) or pay for the balance with Square in the doctor’s office. In addition, the rise of the “internet of (body) things” and self-“appscription” of medical apps is driving consumer-owned health and wellness data in the cloud and their devices. Personal sensor data alone is expected to grow from 10% to 90% of all stored information in the next decade, according to the EU mHealth green paper.

2. Your workforce is mobile and expects anytime, anywhere access
Practitioners are not always in the office, nurses are on the road visiting our aging population, and hospital wards span multiple kilometers of walking every day: efficiency with increased quality are the key drivers to utilizing mobile and cloud in these settings. There are many benefits of leveraging these technologies across real-time medication interactions and adherence, including time management, patient dismissal procedures, viewing and analyzing PACS images or ensuring an effective pharma salesforce.

3. Even the anti-social have social networks
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn combined boast over two billion registered users. In April, Facebook alone surpassed one billion mobile users. These consumers are leveraging social media and other online resources to share their healthcare experiences, talk about adverse effects of drugs and research potential clinical trials for their loved ones to participate in – on the go! Our healthcare systems and regulatory frameworks are falling behind.

Healthcare Technology platforms of tomorrow

Technology groups within the healthcare industry are going through tremendous change, but in general, are struggling to keep up with the customer-driven demands (internal and external) due to lack of resources, shrinking budgets and the skills that are required to adopt and implement these technologies. But there is a prescription for that (though depending on the DNA of the organization the results will vary):

1. Many tools exist; focus on your organizational DNA
Between a host of cloud providers, mobile SDKs and social analytics tools, there is no shortage of technologies that can be picked from, but the key to successful adoption of these are internal incentives for innovation, the culture of risk and the real DNA of the organization. So don’t focus on the tool but on the adoption process.

2. Defy the “invented here” approach
As technologists, we are always proud of creating the largest data warehouse or the sexiest social analytics algorithm, but the reality is that we need to focus the organization around the core value-added services we can provide to our internal and external customers. If you need to store PACS images, integrate with a HIPAA-certified & secure API via TrueVault as an example and focus your internal resources somewhere else.

3. Agile Architecture
In this fast-paced environment we need to be able to adjust based on market and business demands at the speed of light. While an architecture is a blueprint that is a marriage between business needs and technology, given today’s pace of change, this blueprint cannot be hung on the wall and needs to be a completely dynamic, living breathing process (not a document) with modular and interchangeable components that will weather this storm.

4. ROD (Return on Data)
As I like to say: “Cash used to be king. Data is the new King, and the King has Cash.” This is the reason many organizations are now beginning to track ROD (return on data) as part of their ROI (return on investment) calculations. If your finance department is not doing that, it is your job as a technologist to bring this to their attention and ensure that the data being produced, acquired and manipulated to generate knowledge is expressed in hard funding models. Therefore, your next generation health IT platform needs to be instrumented to measure this metric.

How do you foresee incorporating social, cloud and mobile into your healthcare IT platforms?

Eugene Borukhovich Eugene Borukhovich is an international expert on healthcare information technology innovation. He is the founder and organizer of Health 2.0 NYC and Health 2.0 Amsterdam and is a leading advocate in healthcare consumer issues and open health data. He currently serves as VP Healthcare, European Markets at SoftServe, Inc., and can be followed on Twitter at @HealthEugene.