With the accelerated pace of technology innovation and adoption of network-reliant technologies, a modern technology platform has to be able to connect all elements throughout a healthcare system — everything from software, such as electronic medical records (EMR), to hardware, such as connected medical devices.
However, getting all systems integrated and working together is not easy. In a recent survey conducted by ServiceNow in partnership with Healthcare Dive's studioID, 60% of healthcare IT professionals indicated that their current processes and systems made it somewhat to extremely difficult to identify where problems were when something went wrong. Not surprisingly, 64% also said that managing IT system degradation and outages had also been somewhat to extremely difficult over the past two years.
To better identify and resolve issues, an IT organization needs to do the following:
See what is happening systemwide
If health systems go down, it can sometimes be the difference between life or death. Even when it's not critical, system downtime can still negatively affect the clinician and patient experience.
However, IT infrastructure is complex, making it difficult to identify what's causing the issue. Mapping a single clinical service can take weeks — and manually mapping an entire health system's IT infrastructure end-to-end is nearly impossible. This leaves IT guessing at where the issue is or what's the root cause.
"Maybe you have one device that is misbehaving, or you had somebody add a device into the network that you're not aware of," said Mike Luessi, general manager of healthcare and life sciences at ServiceNow. "Whatever it is, when a system is unavailable or compromised that directly impacts providing care, you need to get to the root cause. But if you're guessing, it means that you're not fixing the issue as quickly as possible."
To gain system-wide visibility, there is now automated service mapping. Not only can it trace services across entire IT and clinical environments, but it can also map custom-built business services and can map complete business services in as little as a few hours and, depending on scope, without significant input from domain experts. This makes it easy to quickly pinpoint disruptions to critical hospital business services and fix them much more quickly, reducing costs, and improving reliability.
Make it easier to address problems when they arise
In today's modern healthcare system, clinicians spend more than half their work time using EMR systems. In fact, the use of EMRs has become one of the primary causes of physician burnout. So anything IT can do to empower clinicians and improve their experiences with EMRs is going to affect clinician satisfaction and reduce burnout.
An example of this would be the ability of clinicians to submit service requests (either to flag a problem or request an enhancement) from within the EMR. Integrations like this, that keep clinicians within their workflow and able to leverage the applications they already use, make it simpler and faster for them to get help with technical issues — and that ultimately means more time spent treating patients.
There are also predictive elements that IT can put in place to eliminate issues even further for clinicians. "I'm encouraged about where I see things going and where our technology fits in by going beyond just self-service to getting much more predictive about when there's an issue and actually automating fixing it," Luessi said.
Orchestrate complex systems
One of the biggest challenges around healthcare IT infrastructure is managing the number of siloed systems across the network. The complexity of the issue continues to increase with more healthcare organizations undergoing mergers and acquisitions and with the rapid rise in IoMT devices.
Having a complex web of siloed systems not only makes end-to-end visibility extremely challenging, but it also creates other types of data silos that limit organizations' ability to get better insights. For instance, knowing whether a refrigeration system has gone down and for how long can determine whether a vaccine being stored in it is still usable.
"I think we're going to see more and more organizations that are going to say, 'I actually need to know across the entire organization not only what I have, but I need to monitor the health and the performance of those assets every minute,' because they would potentially make different decisions with those insights," Luessi said.
To better orchestrate these complex systems, healthcare organizations need more interoperability and the ability to deploy connected operations that aggregate the management of connected devices to provide maintenance, detect issues, deliver remediation, and manage compliance. Orchestration solutions are on the market now that can help by automating manual tasks involving systems and applications. And using an orchestration platform can offer immediate value by allowing IT to build workflows and provide a single system of record and engagement. Having improved orchestration capabilities can also improve operational IT efficiencies by speeding problem resolution and increasing service availability.
Bring more reliability and efficiency to IT systems
Healthcare organizations depend on their IT infrastructure to provide care to their patients and provide cost-effective business services. But to meet these goals, and to bring more reliability and efficiency to IT systems, organizations must have a system of engagement that integrates data and information to provide IT complete visibility, control, and security across the organization.