Information Technology In Healthcare Free Essay

The Influence of Modern Technology on the Development and Quality of Medicine

 

Over the years, strides have been taken to improve the quality of care in health organizations. The emergence of healthcare information technology has somehow proven to solve some of the problems facing the health institution, however, as good as this may sound, there are drawbacks to using information technology in healthcare. This paper is going to analyze the good and bad of information technology in healthcare in relation to government policies, stakeholders, as well as patient information.

In healthcare, patient safety is an important aspect, and it involves avoidance, prevention, and reduction of adverse outcomes or injuries that may arise from healthcare processes (Aloitabi & Federico, 2017). There was a report by the Institute of Medicine in 1999 titled “To err is Human” which called for the development and testing of new technologies to reduce medical errors and a follow-up report calling for the use of information technology to serve as the first step in transforming and changing the healthcare setting in order to achieve safer and better care (Aloitabi & Federico, 2017). Healthcare information technology is the application of information processing that deals with the storage, retrieval, and sharing of healthcare information, data, and knowledge for communication and decision making using both computer hardware and software (Aloitabi & Federico, 2017).  Various researches have shown that healthcare information technology improves patient care and outcomes, Bowles, Dykes, and Demiris (2015) indicated that information technology improves the care of older adults and further research is being carried out in order to fully implement information technology in Gerontological care.

Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society is a healthcare organization that focuses on information technology. It is a non-profit organization that serves as a “global advisor and thought a leader that supports the transformation of health through the use of information technology” (HIMSS, 2019). It has more than 70000 global individual members and 630 corporate members as well as over 450 non-profit organizations. They are engaged with improving the quality of health of individuals and populations as well as improving cost and access to healthcare. Their role is to design and leverage key data assets, guide operations, and clinical practice through predictive analytics and maturity models to advise leaders, stakeholders, and health influencers globally of the best practices in health information and technology (HIMSS, 2019). Health Information and Management Systems Society focuses on Electronic Health Records (EHR) which is the organization’s ain information system technology program. Electronic health records and electronic medical records are being used interchangeably. They are, however, an individual’s official health document shared among facilities and agencies in order to improve patient outcome. It is “a digital version of a patient’s paper chart” (HealthIt.gov, 2018). These records are in real time, and they are patient-centered making information available instantly and in secured fashion to authorized users.

Furthermore, electronic health records can contain a patient’s medical history, diagnoses, medications, treatment plans, immunization dates, allergies, radiology images, and laboratory test results. It also allows access to evidence-based materials that a healthcare provider can use to make decisions about patient care, therefore, reducing medical errors and it can also help streamline the provider’s workflow (HealthIt.gov, 2019). All of which have been seen to have a positive impact on patient care and the jobs of physicians and nurses (Manca, 2015). This data contained in the electronic medical records make it possible for health care organizations to share and update information among different departments and offices. According to Manca (2015), healthcare professionals needed tools to help them transform the way they practice, and EMR along with its information technology has done that.

Furthermore, more physicians are adopting the use of EMR, as of 2014, 75 percent of physicians use EMR and have indicated that patient care improved (Manca, 2015). EMRs also help in more efficient storage and retrieval of information. It gives the healthcare providers better information regarding their patients something that was not possible with paper charts; it helps providers view values such as weight, blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure, it also helps improve the quality of care for chronic diseases (Manca, 2015). Furthermore, the data gathered by EMR can be used as an access point to gather research, recent studies have also shown that medications data gathered on EMR can be used in primary care settings to provide information for new drugs (Manca, 2015). EMR is also known to improve communication and relationships between family physicians and team members; it can also be used to assign tasks to necessary departments as well as book schedules. It also improves communication between healthcare providers and the patients allowing the patients to engage in their own personal care (Manca, 2015). Another critically important component of electronic medical records is the ability to improve the workload of physicians and other healthcare personnel (Manca, 2015).

The significant barrier that could hinder the adoption of electronic medical records especially in developing countries is the cost as established by Williams and Boren (2008). Regardless of the challenges, there are possibilities for developing countries to adopt this information technology in their health institutions with the help of the developed countries. Developed countries have incentives in place to take care of financial problems that could arise from the adoption of EMR, studies have shown that health information technology investments generate positive financial investments (Wang, Wang, & McLeod, 2018). The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act was established to promote the adoption of information technology in healthcare as well as significant financial incentives and penalties to organizations willing to use the technology (Wang, Wang, & Leod, 2018). The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid create a regulation around the use of EMR in organizations called meaningful use. The Meaningful Use was created in the hope that it would provide better clinical outcomes as well as improving the quality, safety, and efficiency of information technology ( Wang, Wang, & Leod, 2018). It is a term that defines the minimum United States government standards for electronic medical records, it is divided into three stages, stage one focuses on promoting the adoption of EMR technologies that certified, it establishes the requirements for the collection of electronic data and providing information to the patients by accessing electronic copies of their own information. Stage two focuses on care coordination and patient information exchange as well as improving clinical processes. Stage three focuses on improving health outcomes by implementing measures that protect the patient’s information. Failure to adhere to these important rules can result in penalties of reimbursement by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare.

In case of system breach from the use of electronic medical records, the stakeholders would be unable to get the required funding to promote their organization according to the Meaningful Use Act, furthermore, a patient should be notified within 60 days of a breach in an organizations technological system (American Institute of Health and Management Association, 2014). The HITECH Act also requires that healthcare organizations publicly report all breaches of protected information involving more than 500 patients (Ronquillo et al., 2018). With all of these regulations in place, there is still a big fear of data breach which has been known to happen quite often, as of 2017, there has been a reported breach of about 88 percent of patient data in healthcare organizations (Ronquillo et al., 2018). These security issues are concerning for patients because of the amount of information that is being shared using this technology, as explained earlier, the government has put in place strict regulations regarding information collected an accessed by healthcare providers. Healthcare organizations also enforce strict internal penalties if a patient’s information has been accessed without being authorized like the case of the hospital in Arizona where a lot of employees were fired due to inappropriate access to patient data (Menachemi & Collum, 2011). According to an article by Monegain (2011), it was stated that lack of resources, ill-preparedness, and lack of internal control over patient information causes many healthcare organizations to be unable to deal with privacy and security risks when it comes to electronic health records,. Moreover, a report by Deloitte Center for Health Solutions stated that any health organization ill-prepared for the risks of privacy and security of patient information could leave itself exposed to medical fraud which is worrying for the organization’s stakeholders (Monegain, 2011). System breach or failure poses a serious threat to an organization’s reputation and can lead to some significant financial losses (Cheng, Liu, & Yao, 2017).

In the modern days of technology, the rate of cyber threats has increased which is a problem to the privacy and security of electronic health records (Kruse et al., 2017). Various researches have been made in order to find solutions to prevent data breaches and safeguard patient information, Deloitte’s report highlighted that an organization should be able to identify data security risks and allocate specific security resources to protect patient information. Furthermore, implement policies and carry out training that would enable proper handling of patient information (Monegain, 2011). Numerous techniques can be used to safeguard patient information, Kruse et al. (2017) identified the use of firewall and cryptography methods which have proven to be the most useful techniques for protecting patient information. Cheng, Liu, and Yao (2017) grouped these techniques into two categories, the primary security measure category, and the designated data leak protection category. The use of firewalls, cryptography, and antivirus fall under the primary category. The designated protection uses the content of the data monitored to detect a potential leakage or breach.

Health information technology has grown to be of effective use in many healthcare organizations in developed countries, studies have shown its importance in delivering quality healthcare, and positive patient outcome. It can be introduced in delivering care for older patients; it is also relevant in reducing the workload of healthcare providers. Electronic medical records or electronic health records replace the paper charts in health institutions and allows physicians and nurses to check relevant information as regards to their patients. The drawback, however, of the technology is the privacy and security concerns due to the amount of data that is gathered. Furthermore, the cost of adopting this technology is also very high. The government of the United States of America created policies and regulations that information technology systems must comply with before they are being used in health organizations.

References

AHIMA Practice Brief. (2014) Laws and Regulations Governing the Disclosure of Health Information. Retrieved on 19 January 2019 from http://bok.ahima.org/doc?oid=300245#.XEK4bFwzbIV

Alotaibi, Y. K., & Federico, F. (2017). The impact of health information technology on patient safety. Saudi medical journal38(12), 1173-1180.

Bowles, K. H., Dykes, P., & Demiris, G. (2015). The use of health information technology to improve care and outcomes for older adults. Research in gerontological nursing8(1), 5-10.

Cheng, L., Liu, F., & Yao, D. (2017). Enterprise data breach: causes, challenges, prevention, and future directions. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery7(5), e1211.

HIMSS.org (2019). About HIMSS. Retrieved on 19 January 2019 from https://www.himss.org/about-himss

HealthIt.gov (2018). What is an Electronic Health Record? Retrieved on 19 January from https:/ /www.healthit.gov/faq/what-electronic-health-record-ehr

Kruse, C. S., Smith, B., Vanderlinden, H., & Nealand, A. (2017). Security Techniques for the Electronic Health Records. Journal of medical systems41(8), 127.

Manca D. P. (2015). Do electronic medical records improve quality of care? Yes. Canadian family physician Medecin de Famille Canadien61(10), 846-7, 850-1.

Menachemi, N., & Collum, T. H. (2011). Benefits and drawbacks of electronic health record systems. Risk management and healthcare policy4, 47-55.

Monegain, P (2011). Healthcare Organizations at Risk of More Breaches. Healthcare IT news. Retrieved on 19 January 2019 from https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/healthcare-organizations-risk-more-breaches

Ronquillo, J. G., Erik Winterholler, J., Cwikla, K., Szymanski, R., & Levy, C. (2018). Health IT, hacking, and cybersecurity: national trends in data breaches of protected health information. JAMIA Open.

Wang, T., Wang, Y., & McLeod, A. (2018). Do health information technology investments impact hospital financial performance and productivity?. International Journal of Accounting Information Systems28, 1-13.

Williams, F., & Boren, S. (2008). The role of the electronic medical record (EMR) in care delivery development in developing countries: a systematic review. Journal of Innovation in Health Informatics16(2), 139-145.

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