By John Freund
In the next few years, we’ll see an acceleration of change in healthcare technology. We’re in such a state of rapid change now and there’s no slowing it down – nor should we try! As a provider of advanced technologies for healthcare supply chain, I always suggest to hospital supply chain leaders they consider any company they may partner with and ask questions like: “Will they be able to help me solve evolving problems? Are they fast, nimble, leveraging new technology in ways that will help me manage all this change? How are they reacting to all this change inside their company?” It’s essential the vendor a hospital selects is extremely agile and able to detect emerging trends and meet the coming changes.
So what IS coming? The biggest game changer is already in healthcare and picking up steam: cloud-based technology. While the cloud has been around a long time, it’s now getting more traction in healthcare and more organizations are starting to make the move.
This leads to the question I get asked most often: Is the cloud safe and reliable? My answer is it can be safe; it can be reliable. But it depends on the steps your vendor takes to make it safe and secure. At JumpTech, we’re very committed to security and reliability. If our solutions aren’t securely running 24/7, the hospital’s supply chain team can’t deliver supplies and our customers can’t care for their patients. So we’ve acted on our decision to exist at the highest level of cloud security, which is in the Amazon EC2 environment. Here, all the safety and security that surrounds amazon.com also surrounds us. And an extensive system of server locations ensures continual uptime and reliability. Our customers have never experienced a data breach in 15 years and our unscheduled downtime in the history of our company is less than a few hours.
Then people ask: What’s the advantage of cloud technology? The answer is there are actually quite a few. Cloud technology takes a lot of pressure off of a hospital’s IT team. The beauty of the cloud is that software “lives” in the cloud, so instead of burdening your IT team, your technology vendor keeps software up-to-date and upgraded. I often ask hospital supply chain leaders whether they’re up to the current release level of their ERP. 95% tell me no. When I ask why, it’s because of the cost and time associated with getting it done. IT resources are tied up with EHR and other corporate-level initiatives; supply chain is in the line, but might be further down the list. At JumpTech, we upgrade our software about once a quarter. So here’s the next advantage: because we’re continually working to add new functionality and refine the user experience, the problems we solve for Hospital A, or new UI features we add to help Hospital B, become things that Hospital C also benefit from. Work done in the cloud benefits the entire community of users. At the hospital, users get an email notice that says here are the new features and functionality that are coming your way, and here’s the date and time it will take place. You (and your IT team) go home that night, come in the next day and the updated release is ready.
Next, from an implementation standpoint the cloud is wonderful because to install our software at your facility you first log in, get your user id and password, and then as soon as you login and go to the main menu, and you’re up and running. To install software that resides in-house, you have to get it loaded up onto a server, have it installed, get it configured, train your users and then work with IT to schedule updates. All of that work adds significant cost to the software. The cloud is great because it changes the IT perspective from “we have to manage all this” to “we just need to check out the company that’s going to do this for us to make sure they’re secure, safe, reliable, and meeting our protocols.”
Using cloud-based technology is one way that healthcare organizations can reduce costs and take a step toward the future.