Having read many articles, reports and papers on emerging IT trends that are expected to revolutionize healthcare over the next 12 months (and beyond), I have noticed five key trends appear consistently. These trends are widely expected to be game-changers for the way in which health providers run their businesses and/or the services they offer to patients.
It occurred to me that there is a consistent underlying theme permeating all five areas: Software. Software (specifically custom-built applications) is the enabler for all of these revolutionary trends. In the case of category 5, obviously this is not such a good thing! However, cyber-security aside: connecting with patients in remote locations, driving employee productivity improvements through mobile devices, helping patients to access data or fitness records through cloud-based solutions and connecting the health provider eco-system are all software-enabled expansions of traditional business models. Healthcare companies are essentially becoming software-defined enterprises.
As with any emerging trend or change in business strategy, it inevitably results in the enterprise demanding new business capabilities. This, in itself, is a major challenge for any IT organization, but there are other stakeholders to consider, too. Developers require access to the tools that will enable these amazing, game-changing, custom apps to be written. The IT Finance team, meanwhile, needs IT legacy to be trimmed in order to fund the innovative capabilities. Last, but not least, there is the IT Risk team. These folks not only have to manage the security related to industry regulations such as HIPAA, but they also have to proactively minimize the risks associated with those pesky cyber-security threats mentioned earlier. All in all, this is a big balancing act for the IT organization to manage.
If healthcare companies are to succeed in maximizing the opportunities presented to them by software-based initiatives, then the IT organization will need a little help along the way. The benefits of PaaS are relatively well documented. By decoupling applications from infrastructure, and developers from IT, companies can realize amazing benefits in improved developer efficiency, getting software applications to market faster, and enhanced infrastructure performance. That’s without considering the financial benefits associated with reducing IT legacy and investing more heavily in innovation-related initiatives. That should keep developers, IT finance and the business itself more than happy! That said, my headline was focused on why private PaaS matters. And for the modern day healthcare company, private PaaS is the only way to realize those attractive benefits while keeping the IT Risk team happy, too. The sensitive nature of the data involved, the industry regulations surrounding it, and the potential rewards on offer to cyber-criminals who access said data dictates that the public cloud is simply a non-starter. While security is obviously of the utmost importance in healthcare, the measures in place should be designed to safeguard the business, rather than restrict its future success. One such area where Private PaaS makes a world of difference is multitenancy. Initiatives such as the Health Information Exchange dictate that, to be successful, the entire healthcare eco-system needs to access the data of patients in order to serve them better. Without capabilities such as multitenancy, where multiple providers or business units could conceivably access the same patient data, such initiatives will surely fail.
I am delighted to acknowledge that many healthcare companies (like McKesson) are already adopting private PaaS as a means to build better software that will drive their business forwards. By adopting Private PaaS, organizations have seen an 80% increase in developer productivity, an application time-to-market decrease of 18 months, and a 50% reduction in CAPEX. Not bad at all! Whether or not these healthcare industry trends come to fruition, either this year, or in coming years, is another question all together. It is encouraging, however, to see organizations preparing the internal readiness to maximize their software-based future.