On the other hand, they're being pressed to build Web 2.0 systems which empower both doctors and patients, which could save big money.
This contradictory drive to both communicate and protect, to enable and control, is at the heart of every hospital IT manager's job today. (One key protector is Orchestria, whose logo is at the top of this post.)
On the one hand you have a WiFi cloud, you have devices connected wirelessly, and you have huge files wanting to move out of radiology. On the other hand you have patients with mobile phones which may interfere with that wireless traffic.
On the one hand you have doctors and patients who want to move their messaging traffic off the phones and onto more efficient computer networks. On the other hand you have HIPAA and other ethical barriers.
These are policy questions. They're above the pay grade of the average hospital IT person. And when facing contradictory demands it often seems safer to just do nothing.
Which may be why so many hospital clerical staffs look like something out of the 1950s.
Until we see clear directives from policy-makers, firm decisions about the balance of openness and security, hospitals will remain a computing backwater.