Healthcare information technology has seen an overwhelming amount of acceptance in the medical and healthcare industry over the last decade. More and more medical practices and healthcare facilities are opting to include healthcare IT and this has increased the need for improving best practices and quality of service in the healthcare information industry.
The Two Fields in Healthcare IT
Healthcare information technology can comprise of Healthcare Informatics and Healthcare Information Management. They are different in that Healthcare Informatics is a field where knowledge is applied through technology whereas Healthcare Information Management primarily focuses on health records and data by capturing, assimilating and managing patient and hospital data to provide quality health care. A healthcare IT professional develops and implements tools and processes to effectively capture and analyze healthcare information as well as performs metrics and research using patient care data. On the other hand, a healthcare information management professional uses the tools created by healthcare IT companies to acquire, organize and manage a patient’s medical information for better use of medical professionals, labs, pharmacists and patients themselves.
Data Mining and Predictive Capabilities
Medical facilities and private practices as investing more and more in healthcare information technology tools and processes such as Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems. EHRs improve quality of the healthcare provided, and allow for error-free and well-connected patient care in the healthcare system. Physicians and healthcare professionals are also leveraging patient portals to increase patient satisfaction and improve quality of service. However, only a few facilities have actively mined their healthcare IT data to see how well they are doing or look for ways to improve their services. While more and more healthcare practices, including medium- and small-sized practices are actively using EHRs and healthcare IT systems, only a fraction of these practices and facilities are analyzing their data to identify gaps in their patient care and look for ways to improve.
Low Interest in Healthcare-Related Data Mining
In a recent survey by KPMG, over 270 medical and healthcare professionals were asked if they had a clear business and data analytics road map. It was revealed that only about 10% of practices and facilities used advanced analytics and metrics tools with predictive capabilities. The reasons for low interest in analyzing data and metrics can be attributed to the fact that most of the practices do not have time to run reports and feedbacks, and think there are not many areas for improvement. Smaller practices especially feel overwhelmed and intimidated by the technological needs to improve their healthcare IT processes.
Acceptance of Different Payment Models
In the last five years, revolutionary payment models for healthcare are cropping up to aid patients and medical practices in financial management. Several strides have been made in online and offline payment methods, and the healthcare industry is not too far behind in making use of these effective and efficient modes of payment. A movement away from “fee-for-service” payment model has been gaining momentum in the last few years in the US. A study by RAND Corporation and American Medical Association showed that more and more physicians are allowing for alternate payment models and methods. These include partnering with other physicians or medical facilities to make it easier to offer alternate payment methods as well as healthcare IT benefits to their patients.
With lots to look forward to in this field and a huge potential to use data mining and predictive analytics to improve healthcare, several healthcare information technology providers agree that trends in healthcare IT will have a positive effect on medical practices and healthcare facilities in the coming years.