— By Markus Fromherz, chief innovation officer, Healthcare, ACS, A Xerox Company

A perfect storm is brewing for healthcare organizations. And no, I’m not talking about another blizzard walloping the East Coast. I’m talking about simultaneously navigating the uncertain regulatory environment and an unprecedented rate of technological change. In speaking with providers at HIMSS 2011 this week in sunny Orlando, I found that many are concerned about keeping up with new technologies and finding and retaining the IT resources needed to absorb reform requirements, particularly when commitment to patient care should be top of mind.

The forecast? It won’t always be easy, but it doesn’t have to be as foreboding as some may think. Advanced providers have demonstrated that improving healthcare IT leads to improvements in quality of care and costs, but it’s a matter of getting there. As healthcare moves from paper-based to electronic medical records (EMRs), the implementation of these systems without losing productivity is an ongoing challenge. For many providers, it is helpful to enlist a trusted partner to handle the flow of information throughout the healthcare workday, which allows organizations to focus on the most important part of their business – patients. Xerox / ACS is often enlisted in that role.

In the short term, Xerox helps design and deploy the appropriate EMR, care management, and revenue cycle management systems for a provider’s environment, while also navigating regulatory requirements like complying with Meaningful Use. In the longer term, Xerox is working on advanced image recognition, natural language understanding, and agent-based workflow technologies that will help automate processes and put the information physicians need at their finger tips during diagnosis and treatment of patients.

As always, HIMSS has a way of putting vendor priorities in perspective, and it’s these take-aways that help shape Xerox’s business strategy in healthcare. The focus inevitably circles back to quality patient care, and how we can better help providers meet that goal through technology. You can check out more of what I saw at HIMSS this week in this  short video interview by Matthew Holt, founder of TheHealthcareBlog.com and Health 2.0.