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Health looks to tech

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The local healthcare landscape is a complex one, and so it is important for practitioners, medical institutes and government to look at technology to help transform the sector next year, writes MALCOLM RABSON of Dariel Solutions.

The local healthcare landscape remains a complex one, burdened by a diversity of challenges, and now more than ever, medical institutes, practitioners and Government should be looking at technology as a source of successfully overcoming these obstacles to positively transform and improve this vital sector in 2012.

According to a recent report from Ovum, CIO’s of 152 hospitals across North America, Europe and Australia were surveyed about their IT budgets and priorities for the next 24 months, with a massive 42% stating they had plans to increase their IT spending in 2011. The report cites government-fuelled health IT initiatives to be the stimulus for such spending increases in these regions.

Considering our Presidents reiterated commitment in his State of the Nation Address in February this year, to improve healthcare services locally, (including continuing the fight against HIV and AIDS, training more doctors and nurses, upgrading hospitals, and prioritising women’s health), we certainly anticipate and encourage a replica of this IT spend increase on local shores because of the critical role that technology innovation will play to improve overall operational and administrative processes and help government achieve its humanitarian mandates.

The implementation opportunities of technology for this sector can be seen as two-fold. Firstly, developing and implementing technology that is specifically designed for this sector, as well as investing in technology that already exists. Both have key advantages. The former can provide the healthcare sector with a number of innovative benefits, including for example, a real time and integrated financial billing structure to provide an environment where loss control, theft, tampering, bad debts and non payment can be effectively managed and quickly eradicated. And this is just one example! And of course, by better leveraging existing technology infrastructures, the operational efficiency, accuracy and stability, customer satisfaction and overall effectiveness of any healthcare system can be dramatically improved, while maintaining cost consciousness.

Globally, customised IT solutions are proving their worth in streamlining processes effectively, and are changing the way in which health practitioners are operating their businesses, as well as the manner in which they interact with their patients. Imagine, for example, hospital staff being able to digitally store patient information (which moves with the patient if necessary), offer results such as X-Rays to patients in digitalised format, as well as being able to track the number of beds available in the hospital ‚ and all instantly!

It’s obvious that such benefits will not only result in the quality of work increasing for both doctors and nurses, but for the entire hospital staff. With smoother processes taking place within hospitals and clinics, nurses and hospital staff can focus more of their attention on patient care, as well as achieving the commitment to improving the healthcare services as set out by Government, rather than sorting out admin or other issues that tend to ‚pile up’ over time.

The healthcare industry is an area of enormous growth for the development and deployment of technology, especially in creating new revenue streams and developing innovative digital solutions. Considering the rate at which technology innovations are taking place today, we will likely see technology of all types continue to transform this industry for the better ‚ in fact, in our opinion, it is only a matter of time before we will see this happen and we are excited to be contributing to this innovation into 2012 and beyond.

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