In the wake of the recent historic ruling on health care by the U.S. Supreme Court, many folks in IT are trying to figure out just how big an opportunity health care is going to be for them.
Obviously, health care will be a major campaign issue in 2012 so things are far from settled. But according to Dave Dimond, chief strategist for industry solutions at EMC, health care organizations are going to be dealing with increased volumes of patients who, barring a total repeal of the original legislation, will now have increased access to health care. That’s going to create more need for IT skills and technologies related to everything from identity management, to providing a single view of the patient, to more agile ways of provisioning virtual IT resources, says Dimond.
That increased level of investment, he adds, is also likely to result in a wave of consolidation of health care providers if for no other reason than those organizations will need to be larger if they hope to effectively compete. The simple fact is that profitably in delivering health care services is going to be directly related to how successfully those organizations can manage IT as a service, which Dimond says requires scale and standardized sets of processes typically only found in larger organizations.
Given the current way health care organizations are organized around individual states, Dimond says it will be a while before we see the emergence of more national health care providers, but regional providers along with providers that are specialized around various types of conditions will become the norm much sooner. Regardless of government policy, however, Dimond says it’s only a matter a time before economics and advances in technology force health care providers to compete nationally, especially once health care exchanges become more prevalent.
In the meantime, the amount of data that needs to be collected and analyzed will continue to grow exponentially, security challenges will mount, health care professionals will use more mobile computing devices than ever and there will be greater reliance on cloud computing services.
Given all those challenges, health care might actually wind up being one of the best places to be for IT professionals. In fact, outside of financial services and Internet startups, just about every other vertical industry looks pretty staid, not to mention less fulfilling by comparison even though traditional health care hasn’t exactly led the charge in terms of innovative usage of IT. In short, regardless of your political sensibilities, there are a lot worse places for the average IT professional to find themselves working these days than health care.