An online survey has found that 96 percent of providers’ IT infrastructure is not fully prepared for the emerging technologies (big data, cloud, mobile and social) necessary to optimize their electronic health records systems.

While many providers have implemented or plan to implement these “FutureCare-enabling” technologies in the next two years, only 4 percent of survey respondents indicated that their infrastructure is prepared for the evolution of EHRs. The survey of 151 hospital IT decision makers, sponsored by EMC Corp., was conducted by MeriTalk, a public-private partnership focused on improving the outcomes of health and government IT.

To address the lack of preparation, hospitals surveyed expect 2015 IT spending to increase for all four technology areas—big data, cloud, mobile and social—which will save billions of dollars in annual IT spending in subsequent years. By 2016, healthcare providers anticipate:

*Big data can help them save 21 percent of their annual IT budget

*Cloud can help them save 20 percent of their annual IT budget

*Mobile can help them save 16 percent of their annual IT budget

*Social can help them save 11 percent of their annual IT budget

Currently, providers are using big data and analytics in conjunction with their EHR with 50 percent saying big data is helping them to reduce readmissions and track and evaluate patient outcomes more effectively. Providers are also using big data to conduct cost/benefit analysis to reduce project risk (46 percent), manage clinical and IT staffing levels (38 percent), and prescribe preventative care (24 percent). In addition, two-thirds of surveyed healthcare providers run EHR applications in the cloud, with the majority currently using private cloud models (49 percent), followed by hybrid and public clouds (35 percent).

When it comes to mobile technologies, 57 percent of health IT leaders surveyed say mobile has become an important tool in viewing real-time patient information as caregivers work toward making more informed patient care decisions. Other popular mobile use cases include clinical notifications (46 percent), ePrescribing (41 percent), and patient communication and reminders (38 percent). And, 54 percent of providers are also using social in conjunction with their EHR to facilitate secure collaboration; 52 percent are communicating with patients and sending medication/follow up reminders; and 31 percent are collecting data from wearable technology.

Going forward, to optimize EHRs and ensure their infrastructure can support further growth, respondents say they will enhance security systems (47 percent), improve application performance (38 percent), invest in cloud solutions (31 percent), and modernize back-up and recovery solutions (31 percent).  

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