A growing problem in healthcare IT is the reliance on older legacy systems, as they are expensive to maintain, vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks, and may be holding your organization back from optimal workflows.

Our latest Top 10 series highlights some of the reasons why replacing legacy IT systems is critical – and for even more insight, Mach7’s recent thought leadership article: “Don’t Let Legacy PACS Become Your Legacy” (https://lnkd.in/dfaHG3Mh) can even provide more insight, but for now, let the countdown begin!

10. Data Breaches

Data breaches are in the news almost daily due to outdated and vulnerable legacy systems, making your organization susceptible to cybersecurity attacks. The importance of replacing legacy IT systems and understanding the associated risks of maintaining them going forward is vital. According to the HIPAA Journal Article “2019 Cost of A Data Breach Study Reveals Increase in U.S. Healthcare Data Breach Costs” – (Posted July 24, 2019 – https://lnkd.in/dmY-qGfm), data breaches cost an average of $15M! Typically, the costs associated with data breeches far outweigh system replacement costs.

Legacy systems expose your organization to hackers through security holes that are easy to penetrate and many organizations frequently lack staff training in cybersecurity awareness, which ill prepares your staff to recognize the tactics cybercriminals use to gain entry to your IT infrastructure.  

9. Cost to Maintain Legacy Systems

Asking “how much does IT modernization cost” is the wrong approach to managing your legacy IT replacement strategy.  The cost to maintain vs. the cost to replace is most likely top of mind as you begin your strategy, but you should evaluate what the costs are to maintain your legacy solutions. 

Changing your mindset may surprise you that a 5-year analysis of keeping your old system running may cost more than acquiring new technology to replace it – and if you experience just one data breach, the costs of not modernizing your infrastructure will far exceed the cost to upgrade. Worse yet, it can impact your health system’s credibility for years to come – and the last thing any health system wants is to lose the trust of its physicians and patients.

8. Lack of Access to Data When Legacy Systems are Off-Line

Are your legacy IT systems connected to your enterprise for everyone to use or locked away with limited access?  If they are off-line, then is the data really being used and what benefit is it providing your organization?  

Ask yourself this: How much data you have on your legacy systems today?  What are going to do with it in the future?  Are you required to keep specific data for legal purposes?  What systems will need to be migrated and how much will that add to the overall cost?  What data is critical for you to migrate (but not legally required) to benchmark your business operations and plan for the future? These are all important questions when considering legacy system replacement and what you use your data for and how you will access it in the future.

7. Migration of Old Legacy Systems

Some hospitals have over 300 legacy systems still active, which makes it hard to believe the cost of keeping those systems running along with on-going investments in acquiring new technology. But replacing all those legacy systems can become cost prohibitive if they are all are done at once, yet the on-going costs for maintenance, updates, and usage can be equally as expensive.

When evaluating your legacy IT systems, consider questions like: how much data would have to be migrated; does the data have to be converted before migration; what value is the legacy data providing our organization; what workflows have to be reanalyzed if legacy systems are replaced; what is the cost of on-going legacy system maintenance; does my legacy system meet today’s higher cybersecurity standards; and what is the cost of implementing new systems to replace my outdated technology?

Technology is a tool to help drive business success, not become a barrier. Consider this: if your customers have poor user experiences, they will leave, and if your staff is burdened with older technology, they will also become frustrated and leave. Your technology should help you advance and improve, so look for new platforms that consolidate multiple systems and workflows together while reducing costs to achieve your future business objectives.

6. Replacing Older Systems

If you have an opportunity to grow but your IT systems are holding you back, you are likely in a situation where lost revenue will be your reward for antiquated technology, and possibly your competition will capitalize on your inability to scale. 

If your legacy systems are keeping you from growing and servicing your customers, they will leave for your competition and your profits will suffer, not only that, but your brand could also be negatively affected. The same can happen with your employees – if they leave, they may not have positive things to say and could use social media to anonymously mention this, which further affects your brand. Older systems may limit you in deploying new web capabilities, mobile applications, or restrict integration to the cloud, if those considerations are part of your overall strategy. Replacing older systems positions you for future growth, and solutions you implement should have an adaptable framework to allow for expansion in the future.

5. Flexibility to Adapt to New Workflows

Are you trying to create a competitive edge in your market?  If so, do you need the ability to adapt new workflows such as POCUS (point of care ultrasound) or automated patient communications?  Older systems may inhibit your ability to adopt new technology.

Software that is flexible for your current and future needs is a good reason to consider legacy IT modernization. Reliance on older applications is the Achilles heel of many organizations and oftentimes, inhibits recognizing the value of a digital ROI. As with any project, a fair analysis must be performed on your legacy technology, and requirements must be established and prioritized as part of your modernization strategy, as well as determining your current and future needs.

4. Some Legacy Systems Don't Integrate Well to Other Systems

When modernizing your IT infrastructure, considerations for outdated hardware, software, solution platforms, and process workflows should all be evaluated because older technology may not integrate well with newer technology. 

Older hardware degrades system performance and support may be costly, plus – if the technology is too old – difficult to update should it fail.  Software becomes very obvious in legacy system replacements, since newer solutions offer enhanced workflows, new features, faster processing, new insight capabilities (i.e. AI solutions), enhanced user experience, and improved efficiency. Improved efficiencies can enhance and improve workflow gains, oftentimes changing the manpower costs associated with various internal processes and providing an ROI once the software has been paid for.  As you look to modernize your IT infrastructure, also consider platform updates, as they can change the game on how you operate. Virtualizing your entire infrastructure or moving to the cloud can certainly open opportunities for how your health system can gain significant efficiencies and cost reductions in the future.

3. Poor Customer Experience

Technology should be a tool to help you drive business success and improve your interactions with your patients. Older technology can drive your patients to your competition and cause poor customer service.

Consider patient engagement solutions. Providing automated reminders, two-way texting, directions to your facility, patient intake forms, payment collections, and post procedure follow-up surveys via mobile devices are capabilities most organizations didn’t have prior to 2020. Today, patients are far more engaged in their health and desire better interactions and optimized workflows with their physicians and healthcare facilities. Older technology can create a barrier to attracting new patients as well as limit optimal workflows that can burden your staff and decrease efficiency. 


2. Potential Negative Brand Impact

Your brand is very important for how patients identify with your organization.  Modernizing technology many times ends up falling short on the expected goals organizations were hoping to achieve. The challenge comes from focusing on the technology and not business objectives, as too many organizations, as well as their thought process, are stuck in the ways of the past as is their reliance on legacy systems to provide data to make decisions that drive insight. 


1. Migrate Old Data So It Can Be Used Effectively

As a leader in healthcare IT, you own the vision of your digitization and modernization strategy. Providing a plan on how you will incorporate legacy data into your strategy is important in your modernization journey.

Choosing to remove your outdated PACS or VNA and replace it with one that addresses today’s modern technology will help ensure that you are as protected as you can be when it comes to cybersecurity, and that could save your organization time and money over time, plus significantly improve your workflow processes. Reliance on legacy applications can be the Achilles heel of many organizations and oftentimes, these systems inhibit recognizing the value of a digital ROI. Data not connected to the enterprise provides limited value for your organization, so migrating valuable data to a modern system allows you to continue to gain insight comparing the past to the present.  You also get to eliminate one more cost headache within your organization by sunsetting that old system.

IT system modernization is critical in today’s healthcare environment and AbbaDox provides modern, cloud-based solutions to modernize, automate, and optimize your radiology operations.  Check out our solutions to see if they could be a fit for your organization or better yet, give us a call to discuss your operational challenges as we’re always happy to help!