Several industries have lowered costs and improved quality through investments in information technology. The healthcare sector, however, has been slow to follow suit.
Many providers lack the systems necessary to track a patient's care across multiple locations or providers a patient may see. Yet, information technology can better the quality of care that patients receive by avoiding medical errors, improving communication and boosting efficiency.
The Importance of Tech in Healthcare
It is the goal of every healthcare provider to consistently achieve higher levels of patient safety and quality care. Meeting that goal can be accomplished, at least in part, with an eye towards superior information systems in healthcare environments.
Using EMRs (Electronic Medical Records), healthcare professionals who work at hospitals, clinics, or pharmacies can easily retrieve a flow of information about particular patients. This information includes, but is not limited to, past diagnoses, treatments, existing and prior medications taken, surgeries, and allergies.
This type of information gives the healthcare provider an excellent “big picture” view of the patient that is then used to provide an informed medical opinion, diagnosis, and/or prescription.
Without a proper health care information systems infrastructure, providers are more susceptible to make mistakes. For example, a doctor might prescribe a medication to which the patient has an allergy. However, if there is a quality, up-to-date medical information system in place, complete with the patient’s history and list of allergies, the doctor is immediately aware of the issue and is able to prescribe an alternative medication.
Records are Immediately Available
A benefit to quality healthcare information system is that a patient’s records are immediately available nationwide. Imagine that a family had to relocate while they were working with a doctor. Needing a follow up appointment, they were able to arrange to receive their records immediately while at their new doctor’s office thanks to their Electronic Medical Records.
Another example could be that an emergency x-ray was taken at a hospital in New York while a gentleman was travelling on business. When the man returned home to Florida, his doctor needed the x-rays to resume treatment. Thanks to the ubiquity of the Internet, those records can be made available immediately in electronic form. If it was necessary, the clinic in Florida could also print out the necessary records by using their specialized, state-of-the-art printers.
The Convenience of Online Medical Records
Yet another positive benefit of quality healthcare information systems, and one that makes the information even more readily available, is when medical technology meets mobile hardware. A doctor away from his or her office can pull up medical records on mobile devices such as an iPad or Android tablet. This facilitates quicker response times to queries from patients and colleagues in the healthcare industry.
Also, some medical information systems enable patients themselves to view their own histories.
For example, one system offers patients personalized and secure online access to portions of their electronic medical record (EMR). It enables the patient to securely use the Internet to help manage and receive information about their health. With this personal EMR, the patient is able to:
- Review their medications, immunizations, allergies, problem lists and medical history
- View details of past and upcoming appointments
- Receive some lab results online
- Communicate electronically and securely with their care team
- Review health education topics and discharge instructions provided by their doctor
This option can also come in handy when being questioned by a nurse over the phone or when filling out paperwork for a healthcare facility.
Security in the Healthcare Industry
With all of this healthcare information available via the Internet, some people might be concerned about security breaches that would result in the confidential medical history of patients being compromised. It should be noted that HIPAA has a security rule in place (appropriately named “The Security Rule”) that establishes national standards to protect individuals’ electronic personal health information that is created, received, used, or maintained by a healthcare provider. That rule mandates particular administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to minimize the risk of a breach.
In a nutshell, a state-of-the-art information system in a healthcare environment enhances the efficiency and effectiveness of the care provided. It’s an invaluable asset to improve operations in an environment where the quality of service provided could literally mean life or death.
Looking to hire an IT professional? V-Soft Consulting enables critical business transformation and innovation through “just-in-time” provisioning of IT experts and a range of IT-driven business solutions. Our clients gain access to today’s most skilled, hardworking, and experienced IT consultants as well as a global smart sourcing approach that puts the best resources in the most strategic locations for every job need.