Healthcare is among the fastest growing industries on a global scale. As a result, health data management is becoming more complex for companies of all sizes. Healthcare for IT consists of a range of solutions designed to aid all aspects of health management. It streamlines healthcare delivery, improving patient safety and outcomes across organisations.
What we mean by healthcare for IT (health IT)
Health IT involves the development, use and maintenance of IT solutions in the healthcare sector. Their purpose is to store, process and exchange health-related data among various stakeholders. These include healthcare facilities, patients, caregivers, providers, state bodies and supervisory agencies.
Health IT facilitates patient-clinician interaction. This strengthens the bond of trust between them, increasing patient satisfaction. The goal of health IT solutions is advancing patient care, reducing costs and increasing efficiency. Additionally, they reduce the risk of human error in hospitals, pharmacies and donor centers.
Main types of health IT infrastructure
In a narrower sense, health IT includes the following main components:
Electronic health records: EHRs are real-time patient records that are instantly available to authorised users. They contain full patient history, medication use, diseases, immunisations and allergies. Providers can share EHRs to ensure accurate diagnosis and treatment.
Personal health records: PHRs are personal versions of EHR, maintained by the patient. Patients can include information on doctor appointments, lab results, blood pressure, and lifestyle habits.
Vendor neutral archives & picture archiving and communication systems: VNAs &PACS are used to store medical images. They can also be used to integrate images from different departments into a large image base.
E-prescribing: E-prescribing prevents errors caused by poor legibility of medication orders. It also allows patients to pick up their medications without a paper prescription. In a broader sense, health IT also includes e-health tools for the general population. There is a myriad of health apps people can use to keep track of their health, fitness, and diet habits.
Online communities help people facing similar health issues interact and share experiences.
What does interoperability mean in health IT?
Patient care often requires information exchange across facilities, providers, and agencies. This is especially the case with chronic illnesses. Coordination of care is essential to ensure accurate diagnosis, treatment, and outcome.
Interoperability describes standard-based communication between disparate computerised systems. In other words, to exchange data, IT systems across points of care must speak the same language. This way, data can be shared and displayed in a way end users can understand.
Health IT concerns
Beneficial as it may be, the implementation of health IT does face some challenges.
- The deployment of health IT infrastructure requires considerable upfront investments. Also, the installation of health IT solutions is much more complex than a routine software installation.
- Interoperability is based on a set of standards governing data interchange. The standardisation process is still facing multiple issues. There are gaps in the data standards and several standards are overlapping. Also, changing the existent standards requires major retooling and investments.
- Some providers and health IT vendors don’t like the idea of sharing patient info. This hinders the widespread adoption of health IT tools.
- As cyber threats multiply daily, there are growing concerns related to data security. Since data is stored in the cloud, files are vulnerable to attacks and exposure.
Still, the benefits far outweigh the risks. As a result, more and more companies are jumping on the health IT bandwagon.
Health IT benefits
- Health IT solutions improve the quality of care and patient safety. Hospitals using EHRs report lower mortality rates, fewer medication errors and better patient outcomes.
- The exchange of comprehensive patient info speeds up diagnosis and improves treatment decisions.
- Health IT systems contain large quantities of data. By analyzing this data, clinicians can detect population trends and patterns. This is especially helpful in managing chronic diseases.
- Data analysis can also help create large-scale health strategies and programs.
- Access to big data helps researchers devise new treatment approaches and facilitates drug R&D.
- Functional health IT systems increase staff efficiency, save resources and reduce paperwork.
- The existence of real-time EHRs prevents duplication of tests as a result of incomplete patient info. Providers can check what has already been done thus avoiding unnecessary costs.
Top trends in health information technology
Health IT is a fast growing field. Although new trends are emerging, patient safety and clinical excellence remain key objectives. Here’s an overview of the health IT landscape today and its priorities:
Continued focus on patient–centered care
EHRs store vital patient data and allow coordinated care across organisations. Better EHR adoption and usability is crucial to ensure the best care and favorable outcomes. This, in turn, requires a user-friendly EHR design that allows faster data input.
Another priority is the integration of EHRs with other technologies in the healthcare sector. The use of patient portals will continue to increase. Patient portals are secure websites that enable patient-provider interaction. Their purpose is to help people make more informed healthcare choices.
Hence, patient portals can serve as education platforms for people with chronic and debilitating conditions. Patients can use them to request drug refills and schedule appointments. They can also access their lab results, health records, and medical scans.
Since sensitive data is handled in a virtual environment, security concerns never go away. Ransomware threats and other malicious attacks will continue to grow. The widespread use of mobile devices to access health data also poses a risk. As most of these devices offer poor protection, they serve as easy entry points for malicious attacks.
To ensure safe data exchange across networks and devices, companies need advanced security protocols. The best way to make your systems less prone to attacks is assigning the task to IT professionals. Choose a company with vast expertise in all matters relating to health IT security.
Today’s busy patients value the option of remote healthcare. Telemedicine involves the exchange of texts, videos, and pictures via mobile devices. This data can also be integrated into a patient’s EHR. For certain conditions, remote healthcare eliminates the need for face-to-face interaction. For instance, doctors can diagnose, treat and follow up skin conditions via virtual appointments.
Convenience aside, though, telemedicine is a necessity for people in remote areas and immobile patients.
Vast amounts of data are constantly generated through doctor-patient interaction, clinical care, and research. This data includes research papers, patient medical records, population studies and clinical trials.
Cognitive technologies can greatly support treatment efforts, especially in the management of chronic conditions. In essence, they help providers access all available information about specific cases. This is done by combining patient data and statistical/scientific data for similar conditions. By cross-referencing medical data from multiple sources, clinicians can retrieve valuable content.
To sum up, all healthcare organisations need health IT tools, from small practices to hospital chains. The only thing more important than having them is knowing how to maintain them. And unless you have an IT department in-house, it’s best to outsource this key segment.
The experts at Inspired Techs will make sure all your IT systems are in top shape. Do you need tech support, security checks, networking or virtual solutions? We can manage all aspects of your IT infrastructure. Depending on your needs, you can use our managed services or opt for IT support on demand. Either way, with Inspired Techs, the solution to all your IT problems is just a phone call away.