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when looking at how deeply it has edged into many aspects of almost everyone’s life. But Albany’s Hick- man thought back to a fi scal issue that began affecting healthcare in 1984 – and still affects it today. “When the federal government brought Prospective Payment Sys- tem into play with Medicare, that was a watershed event that sig- nifi cantly restructured the revenue model for every facility, forever,” Hickman explains. “It was actually one of the events that made get- ting good IT in place so much more vital. Depending on your base year and payer mix, your facility could be well positioned fi scally, or in a very difficult place. It forced us to do different kinds of analyses, focused us on cost-based initiatives and required us to manage by the numbers. “Clearly, what is happening with healthcare reform now might pres- ent us with another major paradigm shift. We’ll just have to stay vigilant, to be ready for that change.”

Crystal ball

Healthcare IT has come a long way from IBM punch cards and timesharing on mainframes to tablet PCs, from self-develop hospital info systems to cloud computing. “The focus is clearly on mobility,” Baker says. “With products like the iPhone and iPad, demand will move even faster in that direction.” In the past, Baker suggests, healthcare organizations were too limited in the technologies they could put in place, partly because of their conservative nature, and partly because technology vendors put too little emphasis on enhancing mobile devices for use in an environment such as healthcare. “We’ve had laptops and tablets for some time, but they came with lots of limitations – short battery life, heavy weight, connectivity is- sues,” Baker says. “We had to make them work the best we could, but [ Another reason our image has never been better.

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More Than You Thought

they weren’t designed for our en- vironments. They were made for the consumer market, but that’s beginning to change. And so are healthcare systems.”

When Sarasota’s new nine-story critical-care center and patient bed tower opens in a couple years, Baker

will make sure the organization gets away from the personal-computer concept, creating an environment where providers will share com- puters, but also providing charging stations outside the patient rooms, for the personal devices each profes- sional carries.


SSI’s ClickON®


Management System is a well-documented success in the billing department.


October 2010 23

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