Demand for services and the need to ensure patient safety drive IT spending at St Teresa's Hospital.
According to Pascal Tse, the hospital's chief information technology officer, there will be over 20% of growth in IT spend this year compared to 2012. "Hiring development professionals, virtualization and datacenter refurbishment, and technologies that enable bedside-medication verification account for the majority of IT spend," he said.
As the volume of medical images--such as X-ray and CT scan images--increases, the hospital needs to make better use of its datacenter space. "Server virtualization will help us address the space issue while increasing availability and making maintenance easier," said Tse.
Mobility's key role
Mobility is another area of focus in 2013. "The use of mobile devices will result in much more interaction--including interaction between clients and healthcare service providers before services are delivered--in the next five to 10 years," he said. "We must be prepared for this, as St Teresa isn't just a hospital but also a medical center where people come for a variety of services including plastic surgery and scanning services like MRI and CT scans."
Mobility combined with other systems also facilitates bedside-medication verification. "When delivering medications to in-patients, we must ensure that the right drug of the right dose is delivered to the right patient with the right frequency," said Tse. "The right route--whether the medication should be taken orally, by injection or intravenously--must also be ensured."
While the hospital has already deployed scanners, QR codes on patients' wristbands and medication packs to ensure the right drug is delivered to the right patient, it has a plan to study what systems would help make sure the right dose of drug is delivered with the right frequency, according to Tse.
To achieve that, he noted that a drug profile with data on the dose and when it's taken during the day must be created. "Through the hospital's Wi-Fi network, such data can be checked in a real-time manner," he said. "When a patient's health condition changes or when a drug is discontinued, the drug profile will also be changed and vetted by pharmacists. There must also be relevant workflows in place to make sure all the information is accurate."
According to Tse, the hospital will install about 200 bedside terminals this year, in addition to the 150 terminals already in use.
Besides allowing patients to browse the Internet and watch TV, the terminals allow clinical staffers to input the types of services provided to a patient, he said, adding that this information goes to the hospital's billing system for easy billing.
"These machines can do other tasks--like allowing clinicians to view lab reports and medical images," he noted. "But the hospital hasn't required them to do so, because you can't introduce too many new workflows too soon in a sector like healthcare, where many practices have been there for a long time."
IT talent crunch
Tech aside, Tse expects to increase his hiring budget, adding two to three new staffers to his current team of less than 25 people.
He pointed out that while the number of IT graduates is dwindling, those who do graduate might not want to be IT pros.
"IT talent shortage is a serious issue," he said. "At St Teresa's we develop our own systems because no tools out there meet all our needs. But that means we have to compete for development pros with many other organizations."
This story, "St Teresa's Hospital: IT budget to grow more than 20%" was originally published by Computerworld Hong Kong.