By: Doug Coombs
I risk revealing a couple of things about myself in this blog like my age and my embarrassing television habits. However, as I sit on my sofa, the guilty pleasure of multi-generational pop-culture playing on my screen, I realize that there is a message worth sharing in that bubble-gum dialog. The first show I watched tonight (actually it was the second, but for the sake of the story I will say it was first) was a 1970’s television drama called Emergency!
From the Old…
For those of you who don’t know, Emergency was co-created by Jack Webb of Dragnet fame (catching on to my age yet?). Jack Webb was a bit of a technology nut and stickler for realism in his series. Who could forget (assuming that, like me, you were there to watch) the Jetson-like gadgets used to help paramedics and emergency room clinicians diagnose and stabilize patients? Do you remember that great ‘mobile’ technology carried around in an orange suitcase? And those endless EKG strips that spewed into the hands of awaiting doctors? Amazing!
…To the New
After Emergency!, I switched channels and watched a slightly newer series that also featured a clinical team using the latest technology, in a slightly less reverent setting, to diagnose and treat patients. For those of you who are able to completely refrain from popular television (hats off to you!), or those who have been living under a rock, House was a popular medical drama on Fox. The series followed a drug-addicted doctor (House) and his staff as they solved the hardest diagnostic cases.
By this time, you may be wondering where this verbal meandering is leading – if anywhere; your wait is over.
Old Technology Doesn’t Equal Unnecessary Technology
Several years ago I visited two customers, a very large telecommunications company and a large, distinguished financial organization. While performing an audit of their IT environments I learned, with them, that they had 2700 and 1600 applications, in their environments respectively. Most of these applications were legacy with some so old that no one even knew what they did. This was unfortunately proven in one case when a process, that was determined to be unimportant, was shut down. This caused nearly $30 million in credit card transactions to be delayed and proved that old does not necessarily equal unused.
Healthcare IT, A Horse of a Different Color
When I moved to the healthcare industry, I learned that many things were vastly different from other industries such as what clinicians find humorous. I don’t think I will ever forget one of my first healthcare conference sessions where I googled “C. diff” trying to interpret a joke, while those around me laughed; then soon wishing I hadn’t. Spoiler alert, if you don’t want to learn about cleaning bodily excretions from ceilings you may not want to Google C. diff yourself. I have also learned, however, that the problem of legacy technology is as prevalent in healthcare as anywhere, and perhaps more so.
Healthcare tends to adopt technology early (remember that orange suitcase), particularly when that technology can improve patient care or help clinicians. Technology is quickly and deeply embedded into beloved workflows that are very difficult to change. If you question me on this, try to think of another industry that is still dependent on fax machines and pagers.
A Blend of Multiple Generations of Technology
I have participated in countless discussions primarily around supporting legacy applications and customizations that cannot be retired until they are replaced – and there is nothing with which to replace them. Often this ongoing dependence has thwarted needed progress because new and old technologies could not be supported well together.
As healthcare IT departments consider their desktop and IT modernization efforts, I continually hear the requirement to provision and support legacy Windows applications side-by-side with web-based and even mobile applications. I hear the need to manage and secure patient health information while providing clinicians the critical mobile flexibility to do their job when and where necessary.
Marrying old and new platforms; mobile, web and desktop applications can be tricky. Add to that the need to improve the stability and performance of virtual desktops while ensuring security and compliance, and you’re living the dream of the healthcare IT professional.
These are the types of problems that RES Software helps our customers with every day. There is a reason why hundreds of RES Software customers are in healthcare; it is because they understand healthcare problems and focus resources on solving those problems. If the situations talked about here sound familiar, take a couple of minutes to connect with them. Exchange a couple of minutes of your time for an ally that is dedicated to providing solutions that will help in healthcare IT.