As the modern healthcare industry grows in complexity, traditional management and care approaches lack the capacity to ensure seamless, efficient operation. Healthcare information technology offers multiple benefits in the aspect of medical care, payment models, cost saving and overall patient experience.
The concept of healthcare information technology
Healthcare information technology (health IT) is a specific segment of information technology dealing with the design, use, maintenance and support of IT systems and solutions in a healthcare setting.
More specifically, it involves storage, exchange and processing of health-related data in an electronic environment. To expand the usability of health IT systems, efforts are made on a federal level to encourage interoperability. This refers to shared networks between digital patient record systems in different hospitals, providers and research centers to allow faster and easier communication.
Of course, due to the nature of the industry, safety and confidentiality of data is of pivotal importance. You must take the necessary precautions to ensure proper system security.
In addition to providing immense benefits for the healthcare facilities and providers, health IT is also designed to help patients have better communication with their doctors, share information of interest, learn new things and improve their quality of life.
Types of IT solutions in a healthcare setting
Health IT is a vast area comprising a multitude of components, solutions, and technologies.
EHR (electronic health record)
This is the key element of the health IT infrastructure. EHRs are electronic versions of a patient’s medical history, including all relevant clinical data (conditions, medications, vaccinations).
Unlike traditional paper charts, EHRs are real-time digital records, maintained over time, and accessible to multiple users (consumers, providers, government entities and insurers), with proper authorization. This streamlines the workflow, helps clinicians make better decisions and enhances patient care. Some EHRs allow patients to access their health record, lab results and therapy protocols via a web portal.
PHR (personal health record)
This is a patient’s self-maintained digital health record. It resembles the official EHR, the difference being that the patient decides what information they will include in the personal record. PHR is a convenient way for people to keep track of their doctor visits and various lifestyle aspects. This includes their diet, exercise, blood pressure, and so on. Some PHRs have the option of connecting with the official EHR.
Vendor neutral archives & picture archiving and communication systems (VNAs &PACS)
VNAs & PACS are widely used health IT tools. Their purpose is to help healthcare workers store and access patient medical images used in radiology, neurology and cardiology. VNAs &PACS can also help merge data from different departments into one large image bank.
Electronic prescribing allows direct contact between the prescriber and the pharmacy. It eliminates the possibility of misplacing the paper prescriptions or misreading the prescribed medications.
This health IT component allows patients to interact, ask questions and share experiences about their health. It provides people with much needed comfort and emotional support from others facing similar situations or concerns (terminal diseases, disabilities, pregnancy).
What are the benefits of healthcare information technology?
The automation and interoperability features of health IT systems can greatly improve the delivery of medical care. At the same time, such systems reduce costs, increase efficiency and most importantly, reduce the potential for human error.
Another very useful feature is the optimization of the reimbursement processes for inpatient and outpatient health service providers. Health IT systems also help reduce unnecessary paperwork and facilitate administrative tasks.
Health IT can enhance patient safety due to the availability of info contained in the EHRs. This reduces the possibility of overlooking important data in patient records.
Quality health IT can improve patient care in multiple ways
- Complete picture – EHRs give a more comprehensive overview of the patient’s condition and status compared to the traditional paper records, including past medical history and treatments. Well-maintained EHRs shared among authorized providers eliminate the need for repeating potentially risky tests or procedures, x-rays, lab tests and answering the same questions during every doctor’s visit.
- Instant access – clinicians can access the necessary patient info instantly, like vaccination data, allergies or medications, speeding up diagnosis and treatment. Records can easily be accessed from another city or state.
- Conflict alerts – many EHRs incorporate a warning system, alerting doctors of possible drug interactions so that alternative medications can be prescribed.
- Drug and dosage checks and confirmations – this is an important feature available in many e-prescribing systems. Namely, the system checks the barcode of the drug and compares it to the drug name and dosage on the original prescription. This leads to preventing dispensing errors.
- Accuracy – with e-prescribing, prescriptions are sent directly to the pharmacy, thereby reducing the chances of dispensing the wrong medication due to illegible doctor’s handwriting.
- Data safety – if needed, in cases of emergency, electronic patient records can be transferred to another location and accessed safely.
- Financial benefits – poor process efficiency results in a considerable waste of resources. The implementation of health IT solutions can help save millions of dollars, especially in large hospitals.
- Scientific progress – health IT also allows sharing of medical data among doctors and researchers. It helps speed up the development of new drugs and treatment protocols.
Consider getting help with the implementation of new solutions
Regardless of the level of sophistication of your healthcare IT solution, you should implement and maintain it properly. The incorrect use of software can put patients at risk, both in terms of medical errors and data safety.
This is further compounded by a certain level of resistance normally present among employees when it comes to embracing new technology. People are comfortable with the tools and software they already use.
This is where most healthcare facilities experience problems. And it is also why hiring experienced IT experts to take care of your healthcare IT systems is highly advisable.
At InspiredTechs, we focus on clear communication and all-encompassing, efficient service for all our valued clients. Our seasoned IT professionals are always ready to provide the necessary support, help you identify problem areas and deliver the right solutions.
Whatever issues you may be experiencing with your healthcare technology, you can count on us to keep your health IT system running smoothly and at peak efficiency.