Earlier this year Robert E. Watson, president and CEO, Streamline Health wrote an article for Healthcare IT News in which he discussed the exploding growth of IT in healthcare applications. In this article he states, “In a matter of years, the healthcare industry has changed from measuring the size of data in terabytes and petabytes to exabytes and even zettabytes—and this volume of data is doubling every year.”
This rapid increase in Healthcare IT (HIT) volume could well be one of the key reasons for an increased trend for hospitals toward outsourcing these functions. An article in Becker’s Hospital Review last fall indicated that “The U.S. healthcare IT outsourcing market is expected to grow by 42.8 percent in the next five years”.
Here are some other factors to consider when trying to decide whether to outsource some or all of your IT services, or keep them all in-house:
Safety and Security
There have recently been a spate of IT security breaches in the healthcare field. The most recent was occasioned by Chinese hackers who got into the Community Health System computer network and “stole 4.5 million individuals’ nonmedical patient data”, according to a recent Modern Healthcare article.
Historically, the thinking on the part of many, if not most, healthcare administrators and IT managers has been that locally controlled IT systems were more secure than going through the internet. It only makes sense that onsite systems would be more easily controlled and the information more secure than exposing that information online. And yet, such does not appear to be the case. The security architecture currently available online as evidenced in the financial, retail and hospitality markets, makes the case for data security on the internet that far exceeds that available for an in-house system operating within budgetary constraints.
Outsourcing can provide access to a vast pool of IT resources. These resources are looked at in terms of capacity in the form of virtual servers, virtual workloads, and applications supported instead of the number and memory size of physical servers. It is true that the individual entity – be it a hospital or physician practice – is, in effect, leasing space on someone else’s server instead owning their own. However, with outsourcing, the entity is paying only for what they use instead of what they own. And, with the state-of-the-art of IT advancing like it is, even new equipment can become quickly out-dated.
In addition to expanded physical resources, outsourcing to a cloud-based HIT provider allows access to dedicated, well-trained IT experts. Whether or not you currently have IT personnel on staff, outsourcing to an IT provider, like Netgain, connects your facility to a company with strong IT personnel resources. This connection not only allows you to take advantage of their technical understanding to augment that of your current staff, but also to step in when needed to cover for vacation or sick time or during periods of staff transition.