Until recently, many healthcare workplaces had been stuck in the past. They used antiquated systems that were responsible for countless costly mistakes. However, technological change, slowly but surely, has been improving outcomes.
From the digitization of paper records to the advent of telemedicine, IT is improving healthcare delivery. By hiring a knowledgeable IT consultant, countless hospitals, clinics, and labs have improved efficiency and results.
In this post, we’ll expand on how IT consulting can streamline processes, reduce costs, and improve outcomes in healthcare workplaces.
Electronic Health Records Have Improved Patient Outcomes
We interact with our healthcare system to recover from injury and illness. Sadly, every year, too many patients suffer malpractice or die due to medical errors. According to the BMJ, over 250,000 people died by medical malpractice in 2013.
However, as time has worn on, this situation has improved. Medical malpractice claims have fallen by almost half since 1991, and by more than 10% since 2013. Where have these improvements come from?
It appears the digitization of paper records has reduced mistakes that lead to adverse outcomes. Paper records could easily become damaged or lost. And, even when they were available, poor handwriting often led to costly misinterpretations. Electronic health records (EHRs) have largely eliminated these problems. A busy healthcare professional can now easily understand crucial information, and it is harder to lose EHRs.
On top of this, healthcare information systems have achieved goals that would have been impossible to accomplish with paper records. For instance, physicians can cross-reference medications against a patient’s medical records. If taking a specific medication presents a risk, a warning will immediately pop up.
Further, healthcare professionals can access EHRs from anywhere in the country. This change has been huge for patient care. In the past, these workers had to ask the patient questions – something that’s hard to do if they happen to be incapacitated.
Telemedicine Has Become A Thing
It’s not always possible to see a doctor in-person. Some patients live in rural areas. The schedules of some are so busy that it’s tough to book an appointment. And, in these times, a checkup could expose vulnerable patients to viruses like COVID-19.
In all these scenarios, telemedicine is becoming a viable solution. In recent times, improvements in mobile networking, cell tower coverage, and medical technology has made telehealth pragmatic on a broader scale.
Doctors can now easily interact with patients via video call. 81% of Americans own a smartphone or tablet. As a result, telehealth services are more accessible then ever before.
Additionally, the emergence of remote health assessment tools has improved the quality of telemedicine consultations. ECGs, glucose monitors, and other WiFi-enabled devices have given off-site doctors the info needed to make accurate diagnoses.
Because of these factors, the need for patients to go to a doctor’s office has fallen. Because of this, clinic staff don’t have to deal with patients as much. This change has freed them up to focus on other tasks. Patients get seen faster – especially those in rural areas. And, with fewer patients in-house, the opportunities for virus spread goes down.
By hiring an IT consultant, doctors can set up a telemedicine service so they can serve their patients, wherever they are.
Properly Implemented Healthcare IT Systems Save Money
In any hospital, patient care and safety is a top priority. At the end of the day, though, these facilities need to make money – or at least, they shouldn’t hemorrhage it. In 2018, healthcare spending hit 3.5 trillion USD. As of 2017, per capita healthcare spending hit 10,246 USD per person – more than double than Canada, their next-door neighbor.
The point is, when it comes to healthcare expenditures, there is plenty of room for efficiencies. In this area, IT shows much promise. As we have applied information technology to healthcare environments, it has driven significant savings.
Take something as innocuous as scheduling. Sometimes, excess staff is present when hospital capacity is low. Using a scheduling app that draws on predictive algorithms, it can reportedly reduce costs by 40%.
Healthcare IT can also streamline paperwork done by doctors, nurses, and other health professionals. According to some sources, doctors spend up to one-third of their workday entering notes into EHR systems.
An IT consultant can fix this issue by recommending the creation of a system that imports test results and other data. By doing this, time spent on forms goes down, and time spent seeing patients goes up. This turnaround can increase value and reduce the likelihood of a misdiagnosis.
Information Technology Is Revolutionizing Our Healthcare System
In healthcare, the opportunities for improving patient outcomes and reducing costs are many. Applied correctly, information technology can save time, money, and lives.