Updating The Old, In With The New: Core Healthcare IT Must Keep Up With The Times

As government agencies like the Veterans Health Administration and Defense Health Agency expand and improve the healthcare services they provide, new technological tools are rapidly evolving and improving the speed, quality, and access to care offered to both active-duty and separated service members and their families. With an ever-growing range of capabilities and services on offer and the attention largely focused upon the new clinical technologies, the core IT systems that underpin them are running the increasing risk of falling further behind the times.

This situation presents a challenge for any healthcare provider, but none more so than the U.S. Government, which relies on a wide array of embedded legacy systems - some spanning back decades - to support the core IT systems that are being leveraged by the exciting new tools. To help these new tools realize their full capabilities, agencies will have to work to give updating the back-end systems as much priority as rolling out the new tech.

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While the task may seem daunting, leaders in the healthcare space would be ill advised to ignore the growing need for modernization. Maintaining legacy systems can consume a significant quantity of limited IT budgets and resources, leaving businesses at a competitive disadvantage to more agile startups that are able to ‘start from scratch’. Without the old and new advancing together, the well-known risks of leaving legacy systems in place will only increase the chances of a wide-ranging failure or security breach, potentially compromising the private health data of thousands of active-duty service members and veterans.

The act of standardizing and centralizing IT systems across multiple departments and agencies is no small feat but offers tremendous benefit to organizations willing to put the money and effort into doing so. By understanding the existing environment and business need for change, organizations can work together to ensure IT systems interact smoothly and efficiently, reduce duplicated effort, and maximize limited budgets. The effort of assessing, developing, and implementing a long-term solution to updating core IT systems reduces the risks of increasing technological debt and offers a far more capable and flexible platform for the new healthcare technologies of today - and tomorrow.