Healthcare information technology (HIT) encompasses an array of IT resources that aid in the storing, sharing, and analyzing health information to improve the quality of patient care (Health IT Information, 2014). Successes recorded in the banking and aviation sectors demonstrate that IT resources can make a tremendous contribution to the realization of quality in the service industry. However, research reveals that healthcare leaders and entrepreneurs have been slow in adopting latest technologies in the delivery of healthcare services (Werder, 2015). Pearl (2014), argues that this trend emanates from the inability of innovators to come up with technologies that are end-user -oriented. As result, the innovations do not solve the problems of the patients, hence the reluctance in their adoption. Conversely, research also shows that adoption of latest information technologies in the delivery of patient care can make a great impact on the quality of healthcare. The paper will explore the ways information technology can be used to improve safety, effectiveness, patience-centricity, timeliness, equality, and efficiency in healthcare.
Safety requires that caregivers observe utmost care to avoid errors in service delivery. According to Slonim and Pollack (2005), the aim of patient safety urges medical practitioners to reduce medical errors and circumstances that could cause further suffering to the patients. The medical errors include misdiagnosis (which affects the treatment outcomes), adverse drug prescriptions, and preventive errors that entail failures to offer prophylactic drugs. Environmental errors may include communication breakdowns, equipment malfunctions, and system failures. Proper integration of information technology into health care services has the capability to provide an effective platform for identification patient safety risks and deployment of appropriate medical interventions.
Enhanced bar code medication technologies have the potential of improving evidence-based care. Lavin, Harper, and Barr (2015) proffer a raft of measures that can be used to minimize medical errors. They post that performance of prescriptions, transcription, dispensation and administration should be digitalized and synchronized in the electronic health records systems. The synchronization would provide caregivers with real-time medication surveillance; enhance drug-event alerts as well as timely provision of adverse event surveillance information. Lavin, Harper, and Barr also argue that the enhanced capability of the current technology would give caregivers more access to information which can be used to administer medication. Notably, the enhanced bar code technology can be used to identify and evaluate the appropriateness of a drug dose and route vis-a-vis the therapeutic goal of the drug.
In the cases where patient data is absent in the electronic records, programming of the drug administration processes might lessen medication errors. The programming of medication processes can provide the nurses with tips and alerts about drugs (Lavin, Harper & Barr, 2015), thereby minimizing medical errors resulting from poor judgments
As indicated earlier, ineffective communication is one of the causes of errors in the provision of healthcare services. For this reason, Lavin, Harper, and Barr (2015) recommend for the development of an effective electronic workflow system that provides all stakeholders in hospital settings a real-time platform for passing information to the relevant persons without hindrances. They found that the IT departments often blocked the issues raised by nurses regarding the usability of some of the IT resources in the medical facilities. As result, neither IT systems vendors nor the top-level decision makers could access issues raised by such communications. Such scenario leaves health officials frustrated, thus, encourage more clinical errors. For this reason, a simple electronic workflow system can foster communication efficiency as well as improve coordination amongst the healthcare personnel in admission, transfer and discharge matters.
The tenet of effectiveness recommends the use of optimal available scientific resources and techniques to achieve expected results in the provision medical services. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) defines effectiveness as the care that is based on the best evidence-based health care practices that seek to use acquired evidence to determine the appropriateness of an intervention for better outcomes (American Hospital Association, 2016).According to Slonim and Pollack (2005), evidenced-based healthcare encompasses research evidence, clinical expertise, and patient values to realize the best service outcomes
Healthcare information technology (HIT)plays a significant role in facilitating epidemiological research, collaboration between healthcare professionals, and mitigation of clinical risks (Martinho,2013).Enhanced decision support systems have the potential to reduce the amount of time information takes from points of diagnosis to treatment and preventive service desks. As Lavin, Harper and Barr (2015) explain, real-time access to laboratory results for medical providers might lead to a dramatic drop in errors especially cases of critical situations. The systems must be convenient in the sense that they give responsive evidence to medication officers when practice questions arise (Werder 2015). Moreover, integrated information systems provide knowledge and also provide the relevant evidence from research which can be utilized to minimize variability in medication.
The quality of healthcare depends on the reliability, integrity, and accuracy of patient information (Bowman, 2013).While adopting HIT systems, stakeholders must acknowledge the risks of corruption and unauthorized access resulting from the electronic distribution of patient data. These risks can affect the quality of healthcare in hospitals. Werder (2015) cites accuracy as one of the common challenges that providers encounter while making decisions on patient treatment. Notably, overreliance on the accuracy of electronic medical records can result in grievous decisions if the records of a particular patient contain false or corrupted information. These errors can lead to undesired outcomes, thus, undermining effectiveness
The rationale for this aim is the recognition that different patients have unique needs and, therefore, the provision of healthcare services must entail the incorporation of the distinct needs of the patients on the medical services menu. The patients, their families, and friends should play an active role in the discussions that affect the healthcare they receive (American Hospital Association, 2016). According to Cliff (2012), HIT is an essential ingredient of a healthcare system that is geared towards meeting the patients needs and preferences at the right time, in the right setting, for the right reason, and at the right cost (p.302).Cliff proposes that HIT can utilize to facilitate information flow from the patients and their families to the clinicians without affecting the emotion aspects of the patients. Similarly, medication providers can relay information to the families of the patients through HIT systems such as secure messaging systems. Lee (2016) notes that in spite of the explosive growth of m-health market, the healthcare sector lags behind in the use of mobile technologies to offer medical services. His studies found that only 27 percent of community health centers in the US use cell phones to communicate with patients. The HIT systems can be designed to integrate cellular platforms of patients to instill better medication adherence, efficient management of chronic conditions, and the efficient delivery of reminders to patients.
Timeliness requires a quick and smooth flow of activities in the entire treatment process of patients. This aim addresses the need for improved management of wait times and the availability of resources that may lead to less risk in treatment outcomes (Slonim and Pollack, 2005).The American Hospital Association (2016) note that long waits for appointments and delays in the waiting rooms are common occurrences in healthcare centers. Ineffective internal communication systems cause some of these delays. Lavin, Harper, and Barr (2015) proposed that adoption of an interoperable healthcare IT system can be useful in sending prompt notifications to clinicians and doctors about the patients who have been hospitalized or visited the medical facility .They add that a broad categorization of the type of treatment such patients require can improve efficiency in deployment of medical personnel . This way, relevant medics would promptly attend the patients, thereby minimizing queues that may build up a result of lapses in internal communications. An integrated system of internal communication of communication has the potential to reduce cases of slow response to patient requests in the medical facilities (Werder, 2015).For instance, a system that escalates calls to the next available clinician or command centers would guarantee safety to patients that need urgent attention.
HIT systems have the potential to reduce the time of consultation with patients if there is proper use of internet tools. The electronic storage of patient data can be exploited to facilitate virtual consultations (Werder, 2015). This practice makes the distance irrelevant in service delivery. Besides, clinicians can use Internet-based tools to help the patients manage chronic diseases. However, the aspect of timeliness in treatment wings such as the ICU may be compromised because of the demand for interactions of several hospital personnel to yield error-free outcomes.
Healthcare economics obligates all health care professionals to seek optimal allocation of resources in the delivery of health services. Slonim and Pollack (2005) noted that medical services are meant to reduce suffering of the patient as well as bring value to the organization. This means that quality services must be provided while keeping the costs as low as possible. According to Martin (2014), uncoordinated care is responsible for emergency room visits and readmissions. Often, physicians do not receive notifications of hospitalization of their patients. Delays in transfer of patient records and duplicate diagnostic testing are also common in health care facilities. These lapses cost the Medicare program estimated revenue of $ 17.1 billion annually. These problems can be resolved through the adoption and proper implementation of Electronic Patient Records systems (EHRs). The EHRs have the potential to minimize fragmentation in healthcare through instant distribution of patient information among all clinicians (Health IT Information, 2014). Features of EHRs such alerts can notify physicians about the hospitalization of their patients, thereby minimizing the incidents of re-hospitalization. Health IT Information also post that real-time availability of information can reduce information asymmetry among the specialists of a particular organization. This occurs when one specialist is confronted with unrelated cases that are under the management of other specialists within the organization. Topol (2015) examines the effects smartphones can have on the provision of healthcare services in a cost-effective manner. Topol argues that an integrated use of smartphones with hospital personnel can enhance the management of health conditions as well as reduce the costs on both the patients and the hospitals. The reduced number of patients making physical visits to the hospitals would save medical costs in terms of personnel and other resources.
Equity in Healthcare
Equity prescribes that healthcare should...
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