A new study by HIMSS Analytics and Comcast Business examines hospital information network challenges and barriers, as well as strategies being implemented to address current and future network demands. The study, based on the results of a focus group of hospital IT leaders, was conducted at HIMSS13 in March. The participants agreed with respect to IT infrastructure priorities but diverged in their approaches to addressing the current issues relating to network scalability, executive support, and cloud computing.

The participants identified four interrelated IT infrastructure priorities: The growing use of mobile devices, security, data storage, and images and information exchange. They added that building a network with zero downtime, including disaster preparation, was critical.

Although participants agreed that IT networks currently function adequately, they anticipate the use of wireless to grow quickly and are unsure how current networks will adapt to the increased load. The participants were also concerned about securing patient data when physicians or others are able to use their own mobile devices. Other points of concern included areas where wireless coverage drops out, limiting personal Internet use, and a lack of networking solutions options.

Going forward, participants said that three primary questions need to be addressed.

  • Scalability: Organizations relying on older technology, such as DSL lines, were more concerned about their organization’s capability to scale in the future than were those using newer technology.
  • Executive support: Several participants noted they had to educate their executive team about the nature of networks and that additional staffing needs would arise with the expansion of networks.
  • Viability of cloud computing: Participants approached cloud computing with caution and some noted that they would not trust storing personal health information in the cloud.

To download the full report, click here.