Health Care & Medical: Tech Innovation Keeps The Doctor In - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Business & Finance

Health Care & Medical: Tech Innovation Keeps The Doctor In

IT investments help ensure that health-care industry remains robust

Over the next seven years, medical-supplies distributor Owens & Minor Inc. expects to save $35 million through a newly realigned outsourcing relationship with Perot Systems Corp. Much of those savings are being reinvested into new IT developments, including a major rewrite of all Owens & Minor systems so that customers will exclusively transact with the company through Web services and XML instead of EDI, which accounts for 92% of business flow from customers, says CIO David Guzmán. That IT modernization project will make Owens & Minor dramatically faster and more flexible, further helping transform the company into a real-time buseiness and expanding its focus from a distributor of health products to a third-party logistics and services provider.

"We need to be nimble and to innovate and to have dramatic responses to business changes, and technology is the driver to do that," Guzmán says. And he should know: Owens & Minor topped the InformationWeek 500 list as the No. 1 company in 2001 and 2003 (see story, "Top Of The List: Owens & Minor Takes Supply Chain Deeper").

Meanwhile, health-care providers such as CareGroup Healthcare System and Sutter Health are adopting wireless technologies and the Internet for a range of activities, including ordering everything from drugs to lab tests to supplies. These efforts are helping replace time-intensive and error-prone paper processes, giving doctors and nurses better real-time access to information that can ultimately improve patient care.

Tech endeavors like these by hospitals, physician groups, and medical products and services suppliers show how IT is transforming the delivery and business of health care. InformationWeek 500 health-care and medical companies are catching up to industries with longer histories of using IT to become more flexible and efficient.

In fact, the health-care industry is spending more on IT. Health-care companies spent an average of 3.3% of revenue on IT during the past 12 months, up from 2.7% last year, according to the InformationWeek 500 survey.

Certainly, a big motivator for health-care providers' IT investments has been the need to comply with government regulations, especially the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, to ensure patient privacy and informa- tion security and to create standards for transactions. But skyrocketing malpractice premiums, high rates of medical mistakes, and pressure from government and watchdog groups to curb those errors are forcing providers to evaluate and implement IT solutions to improve the standard of care. And they're doing so despite revenue pressures from continued cutbacks in payments that insurers and government programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, provide.

"The bottom line is that we need to become more productive, and IT is the No. 1 tool for us to compete," says John Hummel, CIO at Sutter Health. This holds true not only for improving Sutter's quality of care, but also for recruiting and keeping the best clinical staff by providing tools to do their work efficiently, Hummel says. "IT is seen as the tool for that salvation," he says.

Sutter, which runs 33 hospitals in Northern California, spends about $100 million annually on IT and has about 680 IT projects in progress at one time. Among its biggest new projects is the building of a master patient index that will use artificial-intelligence technology to ensure that when a doctor accesses information on a patient, such as digitized lab results or X-rays, that information is actually about the person the doctor is treating and not another of Sutter's 5 million patients who has a similar name, Social Security numbers, or other identifying information.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
1 of 4
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
2021 State of ITOps and SecOps Report
2021 State of ITOps and SecOps Report
This new report from InformationWeek explores what we've learned over the past year, critical trends around ITOps and SecOps, and where leaders are focusing their time and efforts to support a growing digital economy. Download it today!
InformationWeek Is Getting an Upgrade!

Find out more about our plans to improve the look, functionality, and performance of the InformationWeek site in the coming months.

Remote Work Tops SF, NYC for Most High-Paying Job Openings
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  7/20/2021
Blockchain Gets Real Across Industries
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  7/22/2021
Seeking a Competitive Edge vs. Chasing Savings in the Cloud
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  7/19/2021
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
Monitoring Critical Cloud Workloads Report
In this report, our experts will discuss how to advance your ability to monitor critical workloads as they move about the various cloud platforms in your company.
White Papers
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll