The healthcare sector is in something of a transitional period. Jeremy Hunt, secretary of state for health, is planning to make the NHS paperless by 2018.
Meanwhile, the introduction of clinical commissioning groups has changed the underlying structure of the whole system, and problems with the NHS 111 helpline, alongside various high-profile inquiries, have affected public sentiment and confidence.
The increasing digitisation of various functions and applications in the health sector makes it a potential growth market for IT suppliers, while innovations such as telehealth rely on specialist resellers for design, installation and support, as well as, increasingly, for complete service delivery.
Historically, the healthcare sector has been rather forward-thinking when it comes to embracing new technological innovations.
For example, hospitals have been quick to adopt BYOD strategies with a view to freeing up their workforces and improving patient care.
Telehealth in particular is an exciting area for the channel to develop. The application of technology can help address current service delivery challenges. The concept of virtual consultation and remote diagnosis has finally become a reality and will probably shape, for example, the GP surgery of the future as well as increase access to specialist services directly from, yet within, the primary care system.
As certain technology becomes more affordable, the deployment of the latest products and services could reduce the burden on secondary healthcare provision in the UK, particularly at a time when A&E services are struggling to deliver critical care.
This technology must be robust, resilient and well designed, and that is where the channel comes in. If a hospital needs a high-definition video link that allows doctors to diagnose patients from a remote location, a huge amount of work needs to be done.
First of all, the communications network needs to be reliable and robust enough to handle the demands placed on it, and the devices at either end must be capable of working together.
Other elements to be considered can include shared portals where patient records and vital signs data can be disseminated quickly and easily - delivery of which will potentially fall under the remit of the reseller.
Maintenance and monitoring must also be taken into account.
Any technical issues will need to be resolved very quickly, while being able to preempt and resolve problems through proactive monitoring may be essential to ensure service availability and the overall effectiveness of the service.
Most of all, resilience and security are key; failure does not just mean a disruption to activities or missed diagnosis, it may affect peoples' lives for years or even generations to come.
There is massive potential for growth too as telehealth evolves and is applied to different areas. Renal care, paediatric neurology and optometry have already been identified as areas where telehealth might be used to improve diagnoses and care services.
Patients using home dialysis machines could be supported remotely, and certain eye examinations with specialist ophthalmologists might be carried out via video link. These are just a few examples.
IT has always been an exciting industry in which to be involved. Growth in revenue and profits will remain the number-one goal for businesses, including the channel, but providing innovative offerings that help improve the quality of people's lives is an enriching experience far removed from the "speeds and feeds" battles of days gone by.
Over the years there have been conflicting reports about the value of telehealth and telemedicine. But as the technology has matured and become more affordable, offerings that are well designed and properly maintained can and do help healthcare professionals work more efficiently and effectively - and that has to be the goal of any successful health sector project.
Advances in communications and developments in technology have presented new opportunities for the channel to be innovative, and that will improve the delivery, reliability and effectiveness of our healthcare services.
Ian Jackson is managing director and co-founder of Imerja
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