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Bruce Haviland knows that building a world-class medical center isn t a job for the faint of heart. These days, the CIO for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Mercy Hospital finds himself sorting through an array of tools and technologies in the quest to improve health care and manage costs. It s critical to put information at the center of the organization and ensure that it s available when and where it s needed, he says. The ability to integrate systems goes a long way toward defining success.

It s a concept that Haviland takes seriously. The Pittsburgh facility, with 50,000 employees and 2,700 physicians, has turned to smartphones to connect medical professionals with electronic medical records (EMRs) and other data. It also has instituted a smart alert system that provides crucial information to caregivers.

UPMC Mercy isn t alone. Health care reform and growing pressure to maximize productivity and profits are prompting health care providers to adopt an array of technologies, including EMRs, cloud computing, virtualization, analytics and mobility.

Today, says T. Baker Smith, a senior partner at Accenture Health, Information technology must support virtually every function within a health care environment from the back office to delivery of care.

Accenture estimates that over the next three years, 90 percent of hospitals will require new investments or upgrades to meet EMR requirements associated with the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009. The stakes are high, Smith says, because health care organizations that meet standards will receive financial incentives, while those that do not risk penalties.

For IT executives, maximizing results is no simple task. Health care providers must find a way to achieve seemingly contradictory goals, says Daniel Matlis, president of consulting firm Axendia. While there s a need to integrate medical technology and improve patient care and outcomes, there s also a need to lower costs.

Of course, the need to maintain patient privacy particularly as medical professionals tap into data at home, on the road and in remote offices is also critical. Maintaining adequate control over the infrastructure is essential, Matlis says.
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To read the original Baseline Magazine article, click here: Healthcare IT Grows Up