Impact of Information Technology in Healthcare

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Abstract

Information Technology has seen tremendous investment and now the most fundamental question that arises is what its returns are. Businesses and organizations continue to question the gains from IT investments. Nonfinancial outcomes such as client satisfaction and value brought about by information technology are also becoming of significance. In health care, the incorporation of information technology apparatus has not only led to the amelioration of quality of healthcare but also to transmutation in the delivery of health care services. The increased need for quality of medical care has prompted the increase in the use of PC applications and programs in health care. Ramez Shehadi, Booz Allen, a lead Principal in IT Strategy Practice in Middle East stated that physicians and patients acknowledged that more advantages were realized as more and more technology increasingly entered the healthcare industry due to ease of access to medical care. However, health care lags behind in the taking up of information technology than other industries by as much as 10-15 years.

Earlier, healthcare information technology was principally for the financial bookkeeping of medical transactions.

A research conducted on Adoption of Information Technology for Medication Safety in U.S. Hospitals, 2006 indicated a superior healthiness acceptance of information technology in hospitals with sick person’s safety conditions, adverse-event reporting systems and patient safety centers. This research shows the need to improve patients’ safeguard conditions highly propelled by health IT adoption. The use of information technology in healthcare has nevertheless grown worldwide for years on end.

The topic “impact of information technology in healthcare” is, therefore, important as it answers the question that many organizations and businesses ask in terms of the returns information technology venturing has brought. This paper, therefore, explores the impacts brought forth by the taking up of information technology in healthcare over the years.

To begin with, personal confidentiality of patients is key. The US President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) brought out a report in 2004 entitled ‘Revolutionizing Healthcare through Information Technology’, which explained the ability of information technology to reduce medical mistakes, lower costs and better patient care. In this report, there was a strong emphasis on the magnificence of shielding the individual privacy of sick people when dealing with electronic health records. While e-records alleviate the sharing and transmission of health information, they enhance abuse of privacy, as well. PITAC stresses “secure, private, interoperable healthcare care information” is crucial to its 21st century healthcare IT infrastructure vision. In this (Enabling the 21st century healthcare information technology revolution), several technologies, collectively called Hippocratic Database (HDB) are talked about. HDB’s Active Enforcement component advances PITAC’s vision by enabling implementation of fine-grained information revelation strategies. Active Enforcement is a client-database bridge that offers that aims to offers solutions to the increasing privacy and security needs. It allows dialogues involving strategies that regulate the disclosure of patients’ personal information between patients and healthcare institutions. These strategies are intercommunicated between enterprise applications and the database to patients’ preferences and applicable regulations that are to be adhered to when accessing and/or disclosing any health information. A second defender to intruder belligerence is encoding and Active Enforcement (AE) can be used together with other aptitudes that allow queries over encoded information without substantially degrading presentation. With this, an institution’s policy may be that one first creates their account in the institution’s website into which they log onto and submit their privacy preferences without their privacy being intruded. They can even indicate if they do not want to share their personal information with third parties.

Information Technology has also led to increased patients’ confidence in health care services especially on security. A study conducted on Public Attitudes about Health Information Technology indicated that the public believe that health information technology can improve healthcare services. A research on the public’s view on the privacy and security offered by health information technology showed that forty-eight percent of the answerers were very apprehensions about the concealment of medical records, as opposed to 22 percent who showed that they were not troubled about the privacy of medical records. However, a majority of the respondents, 68 percent felt that electronic medical records were secure in some way, and 64 percent consented to the fact that the expected great good of electronic medical records overshadowed dangers to privacy. This higher percentage without any doubt showed that the public were more willing to embrace health information technology rather than risk losing their medical information to exposure to unwanted parties.

Health information technology has also helped reduce mistakes. The risk of healthcare providers making mistakes troubles many patients in terms of their safety or finances. However, with the advancement in health information technology, patients’ troubles have now been addressed. Many of the patients’ concerns can be tended to by health information technology, which increases efficiency and accuracy of communication and the ability for a health institution to get more with fewer personnel. The use of clinical judgment support tools, which are also part of the recent technological advances in healthcare, can also help curb the errors that may threaten patients’ safety. These tools can help doctors make better and faster choices along with helping alleviate and ease communication among all parties affected in a sick person’s care.

Health information technology has facilitated faster access to patients’ medical records with the help of Electronic Medical Records. Electronic medical records, as opposed to the traditional custodian of the paper medical record and medical record system are faster and more efficient. Electronic information management professionals are highly trained in terms of their skills, competence and knowledge and can quickly access information about patients from the electronic medical record in a twinkle of an eye. These professionals ensure prompt writing and access to patients’ personal records, scheduling of healthcare appointments, completion of patient’s health questionnaires and surveys and transferring of electronic clinical information. These practitioners also play a purpose in working towards the exchange of healthcare data among providers, healthcare professionals and patients.

With information technology, patients can be monitored and administered at home. Health technological upgrades in sensors, electronic pillboxes among other medication dispensing devices have made it possible for this to happen. Patients are monitored through these devices, and if a health practitioner notices anything awry, instructions can be given to the patient appositely or help discharged to the home. With continued evolution in technology, it will ensure reflexive patient monitoring, anticipation of situations, issuance of alerts or warnings and initiation of intelligence. If this system were to fail, there are trained personnel who will superintend the system and be always present to ensure unusual situations do not arise or interfere with the normal operation of the system.

Another of the impact is huge magnitude of investment that needs to be spent for health institutions to acquire and maintain the technology. The far-flung adoption of health information technology may result in over investment, amounting to almost 1.5 million dollars in the next 15 years according to HIT and MIS: IMPLICATIONS OF HEALTH INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND MEDICAL INFORMATION SYSTEMS article. In addition, more resources are wanted to ensure the growing figure of un-insured and underinsured population is covered; to address an overwhelmingly rising aging population; to render health services and biomedical research development; and to keep up while updating the public health infrastructure. A risk also exists in the purchase of equipment, which may become obsolete or stop working from a trafficker who may go out of business. The cost required to repair the spoilt equipment could be the other burden health service providers may have to confront. A hastened use of poor products is also dangerous and may increase investment required to automate medical information, and discourage providers on benefits on electronic health records.

Health information technology has led to vast short-term outflows while most gains and profits can only be realized in the long-term. Research shows that in spite of long-standing claims and data from recent studies, realistically, there is relatively little proof to show that the increased widespread use of health information technology will lead to an o.............


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