5 technologies every hospital should be using

By Michelle McNickle
11:11 AM
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With new health IT products springing up left and right, you may find yourself swimming in a sea of apps, updates, frameworks and systems. 

Shahid Shah, enterprise software analyst and owner of the blog The Healthcare IT Guy, breaks it down to the five technologies every hospital should be using. 

1. Single Sign-On (SSO) and common identity management with CCOW integration. "Start to phase out all applications that cannot meet common identity or SSO requirements," said Shah. The benefits of SSO are many, and include end-to-end user audit sessions to improve security reporting and auditing as well as significant password help desk cost savings. Likewise, Clinical Context Object Workgroup (CCOW) was designed to allow information sharing between clinical and health IT applications, Shah wrote on his blog, adding that "if a hospital can get their labs, <a href="/directory/electronic-medical-record-emr" target="_blank" class="directory-item-link">EMR, and CPOE vendors to become CCOW compliant, they can share patient context instead of the user having to log in and out of each application separately."

[See also: SSO can save providers more than $2M annually.]

2. Programmable and app-driven content management and document management systems. Both should be "a core for electronic health records instead of special-purpose EHR systems written decades ago," said Shah. "For starters, EHRs should be connected to the right document and content management systems like SharePoint or Alfresco." And when an EHR vendor can't meet your requirements, said Shah, what should be encouraged is meeting the requirements in an adjunct system that works with the EHR. 

3. Virtualization. According to Shah, virtualization should be a priority. "As soon as possible, make it so that no applications should be sitting in physical servers," he said. "Start to phase out those apps that cannot be virtualized. When apps are virtualized, they can easily be scaled and recovered." On his blog, Shah added that environments with a lot of legacy systems embrace virtualization since it allows them to maintain their software while significantly upgrading hardware. "In the past, we've not seen this happen in healthcare," Shah wrote. According to him, simple cloud adoption is next once virtualization becomes the norm.

[See also: Content management reduces load on IT.]

4. HTML5 and JavaScript: Start moving your web and mobile applications away from HTML4 and to HTML5 and JavaScript, said Shah. "This means you should upgrade to IE9 and modern browsers as quickly as possible and start phasing out apps that can't support newer browsers." According to an article titled "<span class="s2">Superior user interface through HTML5" by Praveen Srivatsa, CTO of eMids, HTML5 brings a few key changes to the semantic web, such as offline support. "HTML5 provides a complete offline way of working where you can take your 'Web' application and access the local machine storage," Srivatsa wrote.

5. Location-based asset tracking and app functionality: Your equipment should be aware of where it's physically sitting. In addition, "it should be able to 'find itself' and 'track itself,' using location-based awareness," said Shah. "Use the same location-based awareness to potentially allow or disallow logins based on where someone is logging in from," he said. The location-based awareness can also be used to enable or disable certain features in applications on where logins are occurring.

[See also: 5 health IT practices hospitals should avoid.]

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