Two good reasons for service-orienting healthcare systems, ASAP

New reports of IT staff shortages, data insecurity suggest an environment ripe for SOA.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

If there's any sector of the economy that desperately needs good information technology, that's the healthcare sector -- subject to a dizzying array of government mandates, fighting cost overruns at every corner, and trying to keep up with the latest developments in care and protocols.

New reports of IT staff shortages, data insecurity suggest an environment ripe for SOA.

In fact, a new report from CSC highlights the fact that over the next five years, 50,000 additional IT workers will be needed -- a 50 percent jump from the current workforce level of 108,000 -- to help manage impending implementations of electronic health records and health information exchange applications.

There's no shortage of issues with data security within the sector, either. Even though personal health information is supposed to be as closely guarded as financial data, healthcare organizations reported three times as many data security breaches over the past year as financial organizations.

Looks like a couple of great cases for more service orientation of healthcare systems. Scott Morrison, for one, makes a good case for putting more SOA into the healthcare sector based on the data security revelation.  As he puts it:

"Hospitals and the health care eco-system that surround these are burdened with some of the most heavily siloed IT I have ever seen. There are a number of reasons why this is so, not the least of which is politics that often appear inspired by the House of Borgia. But the greatest contributing factor is the proliferation of single-purpose, closed and proprietary systems. Even the simplest portable x-ray machine has a tremendously sophisticated computer system inside of it."

As any SOA practitioner will attest, security and governance are the cornerstones to a service-oriented architecture. Thus, Scott observes, SOA makes sense in healthcare because it "allows for effective compartmentalizing of services—be these MRI scanners, lab results, or admission records—that are governed in a manner consistent with an overall security architecture."

And, more reusable or shared services available across the healthcare enterprise take the edge off the IT staffing shortages plaguing the industry, since the duplication is eliminated.

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