Patient care technologies can be described as the entirety of devices, medical and surgical procedures, and other technical means used in medicine to provide health care. It has significantly advanced over the last decades and has become an important part of the medical industry. Patient care technologies evolved from installing innovative equipment in hospitals to connecting patients and doctor’s offices across the world. Information technology companies and hospitals work together toward implementing new technology systems that would maximize patients’ safety and provide more clinician time in medical care (Smith, 2004).
The growth of chronic illness among the American population, a wave of baby boomers entering the active phase of high-maintenance healthcare, and the shortage of nurses and physicians are considered the main factors that would considerably increase health care costs in the coming years (Kvedar, Coye, & Everett, 2014). According to the prediction by The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), without proper intervention policies, health care costs might grow dramatically and reach 20 percent of national GDP by 2022 (Kvedar et al., 2014). Development, utilization, and adoption of new technologies might become a promising solution for both decreasing costs of medical care and improving its efficiency.
Effective use of innovation in clinical practices allows for a significant increase in the quality of patient care. Therefore, physicians, both private and public institutions, and the healthcare industry should coordinate their efforts to deliver the benefits of new technological advances to their patients. This paper will look into the influence of telemedicine and electronic health records systems on the quality of patient care.
Telemedicine is the use of telecommunications technology for delivering medical care to remote patients. Among the applications for such technology, the most prominent are the transmission of test and analysis data as well as health promotion and disease prevention information, long-distance consultation, education, and diagnosis (Hughes, 2014). This form of healthcare also facilitates direct communication between healthcare professionals for the consultation and more effective communication of information. Telemedicine has the potential to significantly assist patients living in remote areas in the management of a variety of diseases and conditions (Hughes, 2014). With the recent technological developments, applications of telemedicine encompass all the various patient care disciplines (Currell, Urguhart, Wainwright, & Lewis, 2011).
The use of telemedicine moves hospitals to the patients’ homes, thus dramatically changing the way they manage their diseases and conditions (Oudshoorn, 2011). Healthcare delivered by telecare technology also changes the healthcare infrastructure. The advocates of telecare argue that the introduction of new technologies in healthcare might lead to the reduction of human labor (Oudshoorn, 2011). However, recent studies suggest that telemedicine technology does not reduce but rather redistributes workload (Oudshoorn, 2011). The use of telecare technology in my work allows me to appreciate the positive change of the traditional role of the care provider. However, managing increasingly complicated technology is the aspect associated with the use of telecare that I find to be challenging.
Even though telemedicine is a new and promising area of inpatient care, only very few studies have been dedicated to the application of this technology (Currell et al., 2011). Moreover, all conducted studies heavily relied on the evaluation of the small teams of specialists using the technology rather than focusing on the joined effort of organizations (Currell et al., 2011). Notwithstanding the narrow scope of the conducted research, it is clear that the wide implementation of telemedicine systems will have a beneficial and sustainable impact on the field of patient care (Currell et al., 2011).
Electronic health records (EHRs)
Electronic health records (EHRs) have the potential to improve the safety and quality of patient care. However, these systems must be widely adopted so the patients and healthcare providers could accrue the benefits and positive results they promise. According to the study conducted by The Institute of Medicine, the active use of EHRs can significantly improve patients’ safety and health while driving down the costs of ambulatory care (Simon, Kaushal, Cleary, Jenter, & Poon, 2007). By reducing the time clinicians spend on the documentation of clinical activities, EHR systems increase the time they spend providing direct care to the patients (Poissant, 2005).
After signing The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009, the rate of the adaptation of EHRs dramatically increased (Chun-Ju, 2010). Rapid deployment of the technology was partially instigated by The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, which guaranteed monetary incentives for the healthcare providers who would adopt information technology (Chun-Ju, 2010).
Various benefits have been associated with the use of EHR systems within health care organizations. Countless studies assessed its impact on nurses’ time efficiency as positive (Poissant, 2005). They also suggest that the total length of working shifts usually decreases with the use of such technology (Poissant, 2005). In my practice, processing the admission information became much more efficient with the adoption of EHR systems; however, the complicated interface sometimes hinders the process of data entry.
The rapid advancement of patient care technologies will only increase in the future. It will become a promising solution for decreasing the costs of medical care and improving its quality. Clinicians, private and public institutions, and the healthcare industry should coordinate their efforts to deliver the benefits of new technological advances to their patients. A deeper understanding of the implications of these technological innovations for patient care will significantly improve my nursing care.
Currell, R., Urguhart, C., Wainwright, P., & Lewis, R. (2011). Telemedicine versus face to face patient care: effects on professional practice and health care outcomes, Nursing Times, 24 (4), 216-234.
Hughes, C. (2014). The informatics and technology in professional nursing practice. Web.
Kvedar, J., Coye, M.J., & Everett, W. (2014). Connected Health: A Review Of Technologies And Strategies To Improve Patient, Health Affairs, 33(2), 194-199.
Oudshoorn, N. (2011). Telecare technologies and the transformation of healthcare. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
Poissant, L. (2005). The Impact of Electronic Health Records on Time Efficiency of Physicians and Nurses: A Systematic Review. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 12(5), 505-516.
Simon, S., Kaushal, R., Cleary, P., Jenter, C., & Poon, E. (2007). Correlates of Electronic Health Record Adoption in Office Practices: A Statewide Survey. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 14(1), 110-117.
Smith, C. (2004). New Technology Continues to Invade Healthcare. Nursing Administration Quarterly, 28(2), 92-98.