What is the Future of IT in Healthcare?

What is the Future of IT in Healthcare?
Published: 21 December 2015

Berwick Partners’ IT Leadership practice recently hosted a round table dinner event to discuss the future of IT in Healthcare. The dinner took place under Chatham House rules but the guests were CIO’s and IT Directors from a variety of public and private healthcare providers and Health Tech firms. 

It was clear that all around the table felt that 2016 would be a critical year. The health sector stands on a knife edge. The margins between success and disaster are fine and IT leaders will have a key part to play in influencing the outcome.

There is a definite need for health organisations to collaborate more, to join the dots between primary and secondary care, and to reduce an inherent tendency to push problems downstream to the next provider.

Our audience spoke of real demand from Chief Executives, managers and clinicians alike for better information. Be that to help run organisations more efficiently or to help with care decisions. Until now the health sector has traditionally used information to report rather than predict, IT leaders need to change this by showcasing the ‘art of the possible’.

Some issues were seen as inherent though, symptomatic of a broken system which is often at the mercy of a national political agenda.  People felt these conditions have given rise to endemic short- termism in the UK’s public sector.

It is certain that technology has a fundamental part to play in driving the transformation needed but is unlikely to solve the issues in isolation. Clinical insight garnered though tech-enabled analysis facilitating upstream interventions by medics will be key. As will affording greater opportunity for clinicians to work collaboratively by providing low-cost, readily available apps to allow information sharing between healthcare organisations. 

However widespread pessimism remained around the willingness shown by the vendor community to risk to its IP.  Openness to the knowledge sharing and encouraging interoperability is limited.

Sadly the ‘we can do it… but it’s going to cost you!’ business model is still very much alive and kicking in health tech.  There seems little impetus for vendors to change their stance in the current health economic model which affords little visibility, and no control, over total cost of care per-patient.

Alex Richardson is a consultant in the IT Leadership Practice at Berwick Partners. He recruits IT leadership roles nationally, with a focus on healthcare.

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