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Changes to the healthcare insurance status quo won and lost elections, revised and created business plans, and kept harried CIOs and their overworked staffs up at night. But it also generated opportunities for IT professionals in the healthcare industry to save their organizations time and money, reshape burdensome workflows, and improve patient care. When he was elected, President Barack Obama pledged to change healthcare insurance -- and this year marked months of debate and political hijinks
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Its future -- or elements of its current status -- may be uncertain after the results of November's election and the lawsuits filed in several states by attorneys general, but pundits agree that healthcare reform of some sort is here to stay. On March 23, President Barack Obama signed healthcare reform legislation into law after months of heated debate. The law included IT-centric provisions related to the creation of state insurance exchanges and accountable care organizations.
While much of the healthcare IT action revolved, at least in part, around legislation emanating from Washington, D.C., medical providers and their IT leaders also investigated other tools such as smartphones and tablet PCs, more specifically Apple's iPad. With an ever-growing number of apps available for these mobile devices, healthcare professionals -- especially those such as ambulatory nurses, physical therapists, and home care aides -- are increasingly adopting these devices. In fact, the market for handheld devices in healthcare is expected to reach $8.8 billion for 2010, vs. $8.2 billion in 2009, according to Kalorama Information. "Healthcare workers need to be mobile, and so PDAs and monitoring devices have long been a good fit," said Bruce Carlson, publisher of Kalorama Information.