Only a decade ago, healthcare information technology (HIT) organizations were primarily concerned with solutions that promised improved patient safety, workflow and financial optimization. Communications technology was a second-tier focus. Paper-based charting, which was prevalent then, kept information technology from having an impact on healthcare delivery improvements at the patient-doctor interface.
Times have changed tremendously in just 10 years. Paper-based charting has given way to electronic medical records (EMR), picture archival and communications systems (PACS), radiology information systems (RIS), billing solutions and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. Traditional telephone voice services have migrated from circuit-based switches to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), which enables more advanced unified communications (UC).
Today, the healthcare industry is clear in its move toward becoming a paperless and wireless system. Due to heightened focus on HIT advancement as a result of the massive health IT components of the ARRA, providers will deploy integrated solutions that combine clinical technology with unified communications solutions at increased levels. As providers continue to capture the benefits of EMR solutions, they will continue to explore how they can also harness the potential of UC.