Health care information technology systems
Information technology has influenced a lot of changes in the global health care industry. As a result of the integration of information technology systems, health care delivery systems across the world are more efficient (Revels, 2012). One of the notable changes associated with the adoption of information technology systems within health facilities is better patient care. The process entails inclusive management of health care information.
This information is often shared and read using various technological devices that are internet enabled. Information technology systems in health facilities influence patient experience by reducing therapeutic faults and the need to do manual management of information (Menachemi & Collum, 2011). Others include creating a condensed plan for receiving health care, providing better administration, and harmonizing health care costs (McCarthy, 2012). However, a number of health facilities are reluctant to integrate information technology into their operations despite increased pressure from the government. Information technology systems are an effective strategy that can be used to improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of health care delivery systems across the world.
Reasons for reluctance in implementing electronic medical records
There are a number of reasons as to why electronic medical records are not common in health facilities. First, the use of computers distracts doctors from having quality time with their patients. Most physicians argue that it is not possible for computers to replace their knowledge and expertise with regard to understanding a patient. The reason for this is that it is not possible to talk to computers (Menachemi & Collum, 2011).
In addition, computers can easily develop technical difficulties that can easily lead to false diagnosis. Second, electronic medical records lead to slow productivity among health care professionals. Doctors often complain that the availability of electronic records slows productivity because most health care professionals tend to have less work to do, a factor that makes them lazy and eventually affecting productivity (Menachemi & Collum, 2011).
Third, creating electronic medical records raises the cost of providing health care services. Healthcare information systems are expensive to install and often influence the overall cost of providing care to patients through additional charges. Other reasons include negative returns on investment, difficulties in establishing genuine computers, as well as the elimination of the ability of doctors to monitor, control, and dictate medical practices (Revels, 2012).
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
HIPAA was developed to facilitate the implementation of information technology systems in health facilities across the United States. Enacted in 1996 by the Congress, it has numerous provisions that impact on patient medical information, as well as health insurance for workers and their beneficiaries in case one loses their job (McCarthy, 2012). The act has numerous provisions that require all health facilities to promote high standards for transactions that involve sensitive medical information. The act requires all physicians always to have up-to-date health records of their patients. In addition, the physicians are expected to ensure the privacy of patient information stored in their databases and shared through electronic means (McCarthy, 2012).
Since electronic means of sharing information are very prone to unauthorized access, health care professionals should ensure that information is always shared with the consent of the patient. The act also states that custody of medical information should only be accorded to the patient and their physician (McCarthy, 2012). For young patients, their parents or guardians can assume the custody of the medical information until a time when they can make their own decisions.
Professionals working in the health care industry also have the responsibility of creating awareness among patients with regard to the privacy of their medical information. According to the act, health facilities should develop effective strategies that will help them in handling various patient requests (McCarthy, 2012). The contemporary world is culturally diverse, and patients have different requests in terms of their preferred choice of medication and handling of medical information. Under the act, all professionals working in the health care industry are required to embrace culturally competent medical practices (McCarthy, 2012).
Health facilities should also develop systems to alert patients about any modifications made to their information. This will entail hiring a privacy officer, whose main duties include enforcing privacy policies, guiding health facilities with regard to HIPAA, initiating a register of medical information, and ensuring that health care professionals get the necessary training on patient information privacy (McCarthy, 2012).
Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH)
HITECH is an act passed by the Federal government in 2009, with an aim to promote the use of information technology systems by professionals in health facilities. The government passed the act with an intention to promote the quick adoption of technology by health care professionals through the use of electronic medical records (Menachemi & Collum, 2011). This legislation was developed as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARR), which the Obama administration passed in 2009 to help stimulate the economy. There are numerous advantages and disadvantages associated with the adoption of this legislation.
The first advantage is that it improves clinical outcomes in terms of efficiency and effectiveness (Menachemi & Collum, 2011). Studies have established that health facilities that have adopted HITECH record better quality patient care and safety. This entails the ability of professionals working in those facilities to do their required duties on time and in the correct manner. In addition, it encompasses the ability to achieve the aforementioned elements with the right person and getting the maximum results (Menachemi & Collum, 2011). Improved patient safety entails the ability of physicians to help patients without causing additional injuries.
The second advantage is improved organizational outcomes. Studies have established that health facilities that have adopted HITECH experience higher revenue reduced cost of operation, improved legal compliance, better research strategies, and increased job satisfaction among health care professionals (Menachemi & Collum, 2011). Facilities that had an increase in revenue attributed the development to a reduction in billing errors and grants from the government for implementing ARR. The facilities also experienced lower operational costs due to easy access to medical information, a reduction in the need for human resources, and lesser transcription expenses (Menachemi & Collum, 2011).
One major disadvantage of adapting HITECH is that it reduces productivity. Studies have established that the process of implementing this technology often affects the flow of work in health facilities, thus resulting in a brief reduction of the output of the workforce (Menachemi & Collum, 2011). Most employees are often slow in responding to change, a factor that can easily contribute to this problem. The second disadvantage is the high cost of maintaining technology. According to experts, maintaining electronic medical records is very expensive, and health facilities might need additional funding to carry out maintenance work (Menachemi & Collum, 2011).
Other potential disadvantages of adapting this legislation include violation of patient information privacy, overdependence on technology, and an increase in therapeutic faults (Menachemi & Collum, 2011). One effective strategy that medical staff members can use to mitigate the disadvantages of adopting this legislation is capacity building (Revels, 2012). It is important for health care professionals to get the necessary training about electronic health records several months before their organizations start using them in order to familiarize themselves with their various dynamics.
Workflow processes within health organizations
Studies have established that the implementation of an information technology system in health facilities. There a number of processes involved in maintaining workflow in health facilities with information technology systems. These processes include getting the right information on time, identifying various tasks, prioritizing them, and ordering their completion (Revels, 2012). In developing a workflow for health facilities that want to implement an information technology system, it is important always to consider the workforce and major processes. The reason for this is that these two elements are the key determinants of whether the implementation of an information technology system will be a success or failure. The attitude of employees towards change is very important in achieving organizational success (McCarthy, 2012).
The same applies to the workflow process, as any new element injected into the organization’s system ought to be harmonized for successful operations (Menachemi & Collum, 2011). In order to improve service delivery whenever a health facility is implementing an information technology system, it is important to eliminate the need to disrupt the normal workflow. The reason for this is that there is no perfect information technology system. This means that a health facility should pick a system that will complement its existing workflow process without creating any disruptions (Menachemi & Collum, 2011).
Impact of federal initiatives on patient information privacy, safety, and confidentiality
The government has developed a number of initiatives that focus on promoting the privacy, safety, and confidentiality of patient information. A good example of such an initiative is the enactment of HIPAA (Revels, 2012). According to the act, physicians should ensure the privacy of patient information stored in their databases. They are not allowed to alter or share the information without the knowledge of the patient.
HIPAA directs that the custody of medical information should be shared between the patient and the physician. Professionals working in the health care industry should create awareness among patients with regard to the privacy, safety, and confidentiality of their medical information (Menachemi & Collum, 2011). Finally, professionals working in the health care industry should promote culturally competent medical practices. The government also requires health facilities to have privacy officers who should focus on enforcing privacy policies (McCarthy, 2012). ARR also influences this element by encouraging health care professionals to use electronic medical records, which are more efficient with regard to meeting the three needs.
Advantages of applying an IT system within health facilities
Information technology systems are very important in influencing success within health care facilities. Some of the notable advantages of having such systems include improved efficiency and effectiveness of clinical processes, and better organizational outcomes characterized by increased revenue, low operational cost, better legal compliance, and qualitative research methods (Menachemi & Collum, 2011).
Some of the information technologies that are likely to be used in the health care industry in the next two decades include online consultation with physicians and computerized diagnosis of chronic diseases such as diabetes. Although some of these technologies have been tested before, they are yet to be approved for use in treating certain diseases (Menachemi & Collum, 2011). The reason as to why these technologies are likely to be used in the industry is because of the growing culture among people of doing most transactions using online databases.
McCarthy, C. (2012). Innovation with Information Technologies in Health Care. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. Web.
Menachemi, N., & Collum, T.H. (2011). Benefits and drawbacks of electronic health record systems. Risk Management and Healthcare Policy, 4(5), 47-55. Web.
Revels, M. (2012). Introduction to Health Care Information Technology. New York: Cengage Learning. Web.