The Importance of Healthcare IT Infrastructure

Explore the challenges of IT infrastructure in healthcare and strategies for building a health IT infrastructure.

The importance of information technology in healthcare lies in the essential support and structure for various digital operations, from managing patient records to facilitating quality healthcare services. 

For integrating diverse systems, functions, and stakeholders to the industry’s goal, which is the improvement of maintaining people’s health, healthcare lags behind others. Creating a robust IT infrastructure in healthcare requires connecting different datasets across various systems and sources while ensuring regulatory compliance in healthcare for protecting patient data. 

In this article, we address the challenges of IT infrastructure in healthcare and suggest strategies for building a health IT infrastructure. 

Healthcare IT infrastructure is the technology system that includes hardware, software, and networks, such as:

  • Content Management Systems (CMS): enable the creation, management, and exchange of digital content.
  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP): software that integrates and manages essential business processes.
  • Web Servers: facilitate seamless data exchange and quick resource access.

A robust IT infrastructure helps achieve patient data safety, ensure regulatory compliance, and enhance patient experiences.

How Does IT Infrastructure Improve Healthcare Services?

Personalized Patient Comfort: The patient experience is a delicate interplay of various factors, including the environment in which they receive care. Intelligent healthcare infrastructure takes patient comfort to the next level by allowing individuals to have personal control over room conditions. From lighting to temperature and window blinds, this personalized control enhances overall satisfaction and contributes to a positive healthcare journey with a digital twin for healthcare.

Increased Staff Productivity: An intelligent infrastructure significantly contributes to staff productivity by reducing the time needed to manage systems, and healthcare professionals can dedicate more time to patient care. Streamlined processes and quick access to resources enhance overall workforce efficiency.

Operational Efficiency and Cost Reduction: At its core, an intelligent healthcare infrastructure is a catalyst for operational efficiency, streamlining processes and reducing operational costs. The orchestration of interconnected systems creates a well-coordinated environment where tasks are expedited, and long-term costs are mitigated, ensuring sustainability and cost-effectiveness.

Despite the benefits of IT infrastructure in healthcare, building one requires careful planning and a commitment to overcoming possible technical and organizational challenges.

Challenges of IT Infrastructure in Healthcare

Integration Complexity: Integrating disparate systems, functions, and stakeholders is one of the most significant challenges in healthcare due to the need to connect various technologies and data sources, hindering the creation of a cooperative and efficient IT environment.

Regulatory Compliance: Ensuring compliance with healthcare regulations adds to the complexity of IT infrastructure development. Navigating the intricate landscape of healthcare laws and standards demands careful planning and extensive expertise to avoid legal consequences.

Data Security Concerns: Protecting patient data becomes crucial when sharing sensitive information via interconnected systems. It requires implementing powerful healthcare IT infrastructure cybersecurity strategies for safeguarding systems against potential breaches and unauthorized access.

Staff Training and Upskilling: Healthcare professionals often aren’t excited about new technology implementation despite the advantages innovations bring to the industry. A smooth transition and training for staff accustomed to existing workflows is required to take full advantage of a potent IT infrastructure.

Managing Upfront Costs: Despite the long-term cost savings and benefits of a sturdy hospital IT infrastructure, the upfront costs of transitioning to a more sophisticated solution may require developing phased implementation plans that align with budget constraints while emphasizing long-term cost savings and benefits.

Encompassing aspects like usability and organizational policies are necessary. However, a significant challenge of technical infrastructures in healthcare is establishing a data repository adaptable to ever-changing medical practices and capable of preserving a comprehensive patient history. 

Establish a Robust Healthcare IT Infrastructure with FHIR

The FHIR standard establishes interoperability in healthcare IT systems, allowing for building a future-ready technical infrastructure. FHIR adoption has become a mandatory part of digitalization in the US due to the proven ability of FHIR vs. HL7‘s other standards to establish semantic interoperability in healthcare

FHIR API adoption rate in 2022 by US's hospitals

Source: https://www.healthit.gov/buzz-blog/interoperability/checking-in-on-hospital-ehr-apis-can-providers-and-patients-access-and-share-health-data-via-apps

The wide adoption of FHIR enabled numerous facilities to build hospital IT infrastructure capable of seamless communication within the hospital and extending beyond its boundaries, facilitating efficient management of claims processes.

How can FHIR help overcome the challenges of healthcare IT infrastructure?

Overcoming Integration Complexity: FHIR standards facilitate seamless communication between disparate systems, enabling a more straightforward and efficient integration process. By adopting FHIR, healthcare organizations can overcome the complexity of connecting various technologies and data sources, creating a more cooperative and streamlined IT environment. Stakeholders can build an interoperable system from scratch using the FHIR server or adopt FHIR APIs by applying them over the proprietary workflow through the FHIR Facade to ensure connectivity with all FHIR-first systems. 

Navigating Regulatory Compliance: The FHIR standard provides a standardized framework that aligns with healthcare laws and standards. Implementing FHIR simplifies adherence to regulatory requirements, as the standards offer a unified data exchange method. By incorporating FHIR into IT infrastructure development, healthcare entities can navigate the intricate regulatory landscape more efficiently, minimizing the risk of legal consequences.

Enhancing Data Security: FHIR enables the implementation of powerful security features that address data protection concerns in healthcare IT infrastructure. The standard offers mechanisms for authentication and authorization. By leveraging tools like the Kodjin FHIR Server that comply with HIPAA and ONC regulations, healthcare organizations can strengthen their cybersecurity measures, protecting patient data from potential breaches and unauthorized access. 

Addressing Upfront Costs with FHIR Implementation: FHIR adoption offers a strategic approach to managing these expenses by allowing organizations to implement the standard in phased stages, aligning with budget constraints. This phased implementation strategy emphasizes long-term cost savings and benefits, making the upfront costs more manageable and ensuring a smooth transition to an advanced IT infrastructure.

Final Thought 

When building a national eHealth system for Ukraine, Edenlab’s professionals used the FHIR standard to overcome challenges such as poor information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure and lack of a population registry.

By embracing FHIR standards, the project achieved seamless interoperability, allowing disparate systems to communicate efficiently. This facilitated the integration of 33 regional EHRs and established an FHIR-compliant national clinical data repository (NCDR). 

Navigating challenges of healthcare IT infrastructure, such as integration complexities and regulatory compliance, is necessary for enhancing patient experiences to streamline operations. It demands strategic solutions, such as FHIR adoption, to foster interoperability, address security concerns, provide a phased approach to manage upfront costs, and create a seamlessly connected healthcare ecosystem. Additionally, the integration of RPA for healthcare can play a pivotal role in automating routine administrative tasks, reducing manual errors, and optimizing workflow efficiency, thereby contributing to the overall improvement of healthcare processes. 

Contact us today to evaluate your project’s needs and develop a powerful strategy to empower it with a robust IT infrastructure. 

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