The IT Impact on Healthcare

September 25, 2018 Anjali Arya

Twenty years ago (1998), author M.A. Herbert of “Impact of IT on Health Care Professionals: Changes in Work and the Productivity Paradox,” predicted that information technology would expected to play an important role in healthcare. In the article, Herbert wrote that, “Healthcare organizations are under increasing pressure to become more efficient while at the same time maintaining or improving the quality of care.”

Twenty years later, the goals for healthcare organizations haven’t changed. While the technology has advanced significantly, its purpose remains the same: to increase the efficiency, accuracy, and accessibility of information to help provide high quality care. 

There’s no doubt that IT has improved healthcare initiatives and enhanced the level of care that patients receive. Today, it serves many purposes for health centers around the world; from automating processes, to better data collection and enhancing the patient experience, it’s evident that healthcare IT has made a positive impact on the industry. Some significant changes include:

Increases in workflows and efficiencies

All hospitals look to use technology to aid in making their workflows and processes more efficient. Taking a Kaizen approach[JMLG1] , technology can aid in making certain tasks more automatic, so healthcare providers can focus on providing excellent care to patients.

Machine learning or AI based analytics can ease many processes and maximize workflow efficiency within the demanding healthcare industry. Mobile devices and apps will be able to provide constant surveillance over healthcare procedures, providing an “omnipresent service.”

Electronic Health Records (EHRs)

Paper health records are slowly starting to go extinct as electronic ones begin to take over. Using electronic health records (EHRs) healthcare providers can track a patient’s history, which allows for better diagnosis and treatment. EHRs make it a lot easier for nurses and other health care professionals to input data into a central digitized system; in turn making the workflow surrounding the patient’s journey a lot more efficient.

Strengthening communication

Often, the root of the problem is an improper communication of events. Hospitals are busy environments and, in a setting that complex, there are a lot of moving parts. While IT systems may not be able to completely solve all communication issues, they can certainly help automate some of the communication by supplying tools for reporting, capturing feedback, creating visual dashboards for spotting trends and forming a central area for patient information using EHRs.  

Providing better data to better support critical decisions

Since EHRs allow healthcare organizations to store data on a patient’s journey, committees focused on patient safety and experience are better able to spot trends, start initiatives and make important decisions that affect their patient population.

With improved data access, healthcare institutions can expand their reach by improving working conditions for staff and easily connect patients to personalized care.

Enhancing patient experience

Technology has revolutionized the way that healthcare professionals engage with patients. Modern IT software supports core medical processes, enables easy access of information at the time of care, and easily facilitates the integration of various systems.

Reducing hospital costs

Transitioning from paper records to EHRs has proven to not only be beneficial for patient processes but has helped lower costs for hospitals. Along with helping to deliver better quality, low-cost care, they can reduce outpatient care costs by 3 percent.

However, while it’s evident that technology has improved healthcare, it comes with challenges of its own. Some of the challenges currently affecting the health tech landscape include:

  1. Cost

Receiving approval for a new piece of technology can be quite difficult, especially when that technology (either equipment or software) comes at a high cost. The executive team usually asks for proof of return on investment, common questions being:

  • How does the performance of the technology balance out against the high cost?
  • Will it prove to be more efficient and help us with our goals for patient safety and quality?
  1. Learning curve

In addition to costs, any time a new technology is implemented, teams must also account for the           time it will take to train new users. Alongside their daily tasks, staff will have to engage others in wanting to use the tool and ensure that it’s being done appropriately.

  1. Changes (Updates and upkeep)

Hospital environments go through changes quite frequently. Among staffing adjustments and process developments, having to keep up with the updates of health tech products can be a hard task.

New updates and long learning curves can hold teams back but also lead to potential errors.

With RL6 we’ve taken those burdens into account, which has allowed us to transform our services and software to provide users with a seamless process. Our current software allows RL6 users to self-update to the latest version with ease when it becomes available, so it’s easy for you to stay up to date with the latest features. There are no additional feed and all training materials are provided on HUB meaning that RL clients can leave the staff engagement and updates on us, while they continue to focus on their daily tasks.   

As we continue to advance our technology, we open the door to tremendous opportunities to better the quality of care.

To find out more about our latest updates, visit the release notes on RL HUB.

 

About the Author

As part of the marketing team at RL, Anjali is passionate about innovation in healthcare. When she's not learning about new client initiatives or helping to plan RL Palooza, you can find her escaping to her next adventure.

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