Whenever a breakthrough, life-saving innovation happens in healthcare, medical professionals have to adapt to the advanced tools and systems behind it. This process is nothing new, but the degree of technological sophistication needed to support these innovations is rapidly changing.

I’m talking about the technology that supports critical medical procedures, yes, but I’m also talking about the technology that supports the people performing them—the dedicated clinicians and physicians.

2018 will be the year healthcare puts a revitalized focus on the user experience (UX) of medical professionals, expands its view of technology investments from an IT decision to a business decision, and implements scalable solutions to enable innovation and growth.

When we get these components right, the result is a higher quality of care. It’s felt by the patient. Let’s take a closer look at all the moving pieces.

A Better User Experience is a Better Care Continuum

Clinicians today need simple, fast access to the information they’re consuming no matter where, when, or how they’re working. Whether they’re working at home on a tablet, accessing a clinical application on their mobile phone, or using a familiar workstation at their practice, their experience needs to be consistent and seamless. They need custom, highly-accessible user experiences that let them consume data in real time.

The latest generation of medical professionals grew up in the digital age; electronic health records (EHR) have been around for as long as they’ve been practicing. Today, it’s common for medical professionals to assert their expectations and technological requirements in the interview process. The ability to support a candidate’s personal workflow is synonymous with attracting top talent.

Smaller practices are constantly acquired by larger health networks. The question then becomes, “How can we deliver the experience they expect and were used to before?” Even within a single practice, you can walk down the hall and find a physician using an entirely different workflow than a doctor 30 feet from them.

A superior user experience simplifies the lives of medical professionals, so they can focus on what they do best: treating patients.

Technology Is No Longer Just an IT Decision—It’s a Business Decision

When we think about UX, we have to consider IT divisions, too. How can we enable IT to expand the care practices in their organization? How can we empower them to support myriad personal workflows? How can we help them manage their environments?

These big questions are changing the way many healthcare organizations assess IT decisions and budgets. More and more healthcare organizations are looking at new technology solutions and outsourcing IT processes to consulting practices and independent software vendors. The move lets them focus on patient care and scale to the level of support their organization needs. For many practices, it’s more efficient and cost-effective.

It’s a trend that extends far beyond healthcare and it’s part of the reason that Citrix is such a critical solution. Companies need to be able to support the technological complexity of their organizational network—securely. Protecting the sensitivity of personal health information (PHI) and adhering to government regulations is paramount. There’s no compromise on security. The strength and diversity of our expansive partner network makes Citrix that much better at delivering on our customers’ needs.

Cost-efficiency is just one factor in the shift from technology as an IT decision to a business decision. In the highly competitive, innovative healthcare arena, the ability to or keep up with—or, more to the point, stay ahead of—competitors can’t be held up by costs. Technology investments and infrastructure capabilities have become a crucial competitive advantage and a total business imperative.

Technology Needs To Scale With Organizational Innovation and Growth

Five years ago, cloud wasn’t even part of the conversation within many organizations. Today, when I speak with customers, it’s the conversation starter from executives.

Take groundbreaking tomosynthesis technology as an example. It surpasses the capabilities of traditional mammogram technology through the ability to examine dense breast tissue. Physicians are able to diagnose or rule out breast health-related issues much earlier, which allows for faster care or peace of mind. It’s a huge win for patient care. It also involves an exponentially larger amount of data to process and analyze.

The technology requirements behind such new technologies are driving organizations to rethink how they’re building datacenters and if they can afford to support new innovations. It’s actively changing the conversation about the cloud, and it’s coming to the breakpoint. There are now too many reasons that make more sense to look at cloud solutions or more diverse computing environments.

Organizational growth presents the same challenge. When new practices are acquired, the infrastructure has to be able to support massive amounts of new data brought in by new systems, advanced studies, new technologies, etc. Organizations realize they need to leverage scalability and the power of cloud to support all these additions and advancements.

As a result, we will see IT infrastructure teams within organizations, and engineers focusing on innovation instead of admin and patching. Without adequate engineering resources for innovation, the cost-to-benefit ratio dips in the wrong direction and the pace of innovation falls behind clinical needs—and the competition.

Bringing It All Together

Each time I’m out in the field, I’m repeatedly blown away by the passion and dedication of the medical professionals I talk to. It makes it near impossible to forget why the customer experience is so important and who has the biggest impact on the patient experience.

In our industry, the customers are the clinicians delivering the care. Our job is to build the right solution and make it easier for them to use the technology—how they want to use it.

The ability to tie all the pieces together—to focus on the user experience, to make technology a business decision, to choose solutions that enable scalability and innovation—will make all the difference in how an organization suceeds .