How Can Information Technology Improve The Quality of Healthcare?


Technology continues to expand at a rapid pace, opening present-day life to brand-new and impressive possibilities with each passing year. In no area has technology proven more remarkable or profound than the field of healthcare. Healthcare information technology has provided a greater quality of life for patients of all backgrounds, all while considerably improving upon patient safety.

From allowing a free-flow of accurate information to improve medication safety, information technology has made for patient-centered care that is error-free and consistent. With the application of the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record Incentive program, and the expansion of several key advancements in the field, technology is truly granting patients a better quality of care and a safer more patient-driven environment. Just how much can healthcare information technology really improve quality of care and safety? The recent breakthroughs are numerous.

Barcode Medication Scanning

One recent development securing patient safety is barcode medication scanning. In healthcare, medication mix ups can be a continuous cause of difficulties. Bar code medication administration systems made simple through healthcare information technology can help ease these burdens. These structures incorporate electronic medication administration records with prevailing technology in bar codes.

With a modest bar code scan, medication failings can be averted, as it is consistently assures that the correct patient is receiving the right medication at exactly the right time. Newer software programs are also making it simple for alerts to be produced when working with commonly confounded medication types.

Other programs can provide physicians and nursing staff with documentation and helpful details such as side effects or potential interactions with other medications. These concepts work together to ensure that every patient is receiving their medications correctly every time, improving the quality of care and making medication dosing markedly more safe.

Accurate Clinical Documentation

In years past, a common source of complications within hospitals and private practices was discrepancies in clinical documentation. Mix-ups in patient information among doctors and health networks proved to be a headache with no relief. With healthcare information technology, this no

longer stands as a major issue. In 2012, a majority of hospitals and health networks began to implement IT programs that could store patient information, lab results, medication lists, and medical records without the stress of paper copies. These electronic systems kicked the old paper filing methods to the curb, proving more reliable and accurate. As of 2019, ninety-seven percent of all American hospitals reported healthcare IT systems fit with electronic clinical documentation of health summaries.

Improved Communications Between Doctors

Electronically stored clinical records also make for better doctoring, upping the quality of healthcare every patient receives. Doctors make well-informed decisions when they have every piece of the puzzle in view. This means having all of the necessary information in regards to a person’s whole medical journey, not just small fragments. Since patient’s often doctor with multiple providers, electronic documentation allows a free-flow of information between those physicians.

Since one of the biggest factors in medical setbacks is the occurrence of a miscommunication between doctors. Electronic health records reduce those errors by compiling ever piece of a patients history into one easily read the record, which is made fully accessible to all physicians (in and out of network), thanks to healthcare information technology. With these records at hand, physicians are granted a glimpse into a persons history, without having to rely on the patient themselves for information.

Patient Care Portals and Patient-Centered Applications

Electronic clinical documentation has also supported the rise of patient-centered applications that grant individuals access to their medical information online at any time. Patients are encouraged to become involved in their own care, which leads to greater satisfaction and a feeling of control over ones own health journey.

Not only can patients see records, test results, and medications all at the click of a button, they can request refills and book new appointments right within an app. These applications also give patients the opportunity to chat with doctors directly, attach photos, and engage in ways that were once totally impossible. As of 2019, more than ninety percent of all provider networks had implemented some kind of patientcentered web portal or mobile app.

High-Risk Monitoring and Decision Support

High-risk patients are common in healthcare settings, decision support systems provided by information technology can help. Decision support systems alert clinicians to abnormal test results, contradictions in prescription dosages, drug interactions, and other information in which clinical intervention is needed. With the aid of technology, most IT health systems can display information

to support clinical decision making, leading to more accurate diagnoses and better clinical treatment plans. In 2019, ninety-two percent of American hospitals utilized decision support through clinical guidelines as a part of their IT healthcare system.

Clinical decision support and high-risk monitoring improve the quality of healthcare by integrating the decision-making process and improving the overall access to critical patient information. This allows providers to identify risks, prevent setbacks, and move forward in a treatment plan with total confidence. Without these advances, there would be a greater risk in every clinical move, which not only leads to bad interactions with medications and poor outcomes but a less safe environment for patients.

Retained Surgical Items Technology

For healthcare providers, quality of care and patient safety are always a top priority. Surgery has always been an area of medicine that required greater advances in tech to bring peace of mind to those lying on the operating table. A patient’s greatest fear is the idea that something from the surgical table could be left inside of them. Not long ago, it wasn’t uncommon to hear of patient’s being stitched shut with surgical sponges or scalpels still enclosed. Retained Surgical Items Prevention Technologies have come into play to prevent this from happening.

Barcoding and RFID tagging of surgical items has greatly decreased the number of mishaps involving surgical instruments being left inside of patients. Three disparate studies found that technologies preventing retained surgical items has reduced this occurrence and limited the odds that a patient would require an additional surgery to remove these items. Not only has this bit of technology made patients safer when going under the knife, it has granted a higher level of patient care and a decreased risk of complications.

The Takeaway

At the end of the day, health information technologies are critical in improving patient care, safety, and the overall quality of our healthcare systems. Whether it is advanced decision support, reducing human error, or improving coordination between providers, there is no doubt that information technology is making the world of healthcare better every day. As our world continues to change, relying more and more on tech every day, advances in artificial intelligence and information technology will only continue to impact how we receive care and think about clinical settings.

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