While many healthcare providers plan to use new technologies, including cloud storage, big data, mobile, and social, to optimize electronic medical records (EMR), 96% say their infrastructure is not fully prepared for the evolution of their EMR today.

The findings come from a new study released on October 13 by MeriTalk, a public-private partnership focused on improving the outcomes of health and government IT. The report, “FutureCare: Cloud, Big Data, Mobile, and Social Optimize the EMR,” is sponsored by EMC Corporation.

According to the study, two-thirds of healthcare providers run EMR applications in the cloud, with the majority currently using private cloud models (49%), followed by hybrid and public clouds (35%). Healthcare providers are also using big data and analytics in conjunction with their EMR, with 50% saying big data is helping them to reduce readmissions and track and evaluate patient outcomes more effectively.  

Mobile and social technologies are also starting to make an impact on healthcare providers, the study says. Fifty-seven percent of health IT leaders say mobile has become an important tool in viewing real-time patient information as caregivers work toward making more informed patient care decisions. Additional mobile use cases include clinical notifications (46%), ePrescribing (41%), and patient communication and reminders (38%).

Health IT leaders expect 2015 IT spending to increase for all four areas—cloud, big data, mobile, and social. By 2016, they anticipate significant budget savings. However, when asked how prepared their infrastructure is for the evolution of their EMR, just 4% of respondents stated that they are already prepared. To optimize EMR and ensure the infrastructure can support further growth, health IT leaders say they will enhance security systems (47%), improve application performance (38%), invest in cloud solutions (31%), and modernize backup and recovery solutions (31%).

The MeriTalk study is based on an online survey of 151 hospital IT decision-makers, conducted in August 2014. It may be downloaded from the MeriTalk website (registration required).