The Use of Information Technology in Healthcare

Abstract

A healthcare system describes the way the society structures human labor, institutions and resources, in the provision of quality healthcare services. More recently, the use of Information Technology in Healthcare (ITH) has enabled faster and more effective diagnosis of patients’ conditions. This has led to improved quality of service offered by healthcare institutions, as well as, providing an avenue for a more interactive system of monitoring patients’ medical records. ITH has affected the healthcare system both positively and negatively; therefore, it is crucial to study the impact IT has had on the Healthcare system.

Introduction

In recent times, the Healthcare system has increasingly received more interest than any other sector of the economy in terms of development and the incorporation of Information Technology (IT) in its services. The driving force behind all this is the increased demand for better service, faster diagnosis and real-time interaction between health practitioners and their patients. This has led to innovations like Electronic Medical Registers and Magnetic Resonance Imaging among others, all in the quest to improve the quality of service in Healthcare. This essay will study the impact that IT has had on the healthcare system.

Healthcare Technology. Contribution of technology in Healthcare. Impact to Clinicians/organizations
Electronic Medical Record (EMR) Keeps electronic record of patients’ medical history and can be accessed in real-time by authorized physicians, laboratory assistants and pharmacists in a healthcare facility. It can also be integrated into regional or even national healthcare networks for wider access (Ciampa and Revels, 2012).
  • The software highlights possible diagnosis of patient’s condition according to the medical history, thereby reducing diagnosis time, while at the same time, providing the physician with information on possible drug contraindications and allergies, if any (Joseph, 2004).
  • The integration of electronic billing system in EMR has helped to reduce fraud in organizations by removing avenues where clerks either overcharged or undercharged patients, while also offering financial management advice to management on underutilized sectors on the hospital’s revenue cycle (Plunkett, 2008).
  • However, the easy access of private information stored on EMRs by healthcare practitioners has led to legal issues concerning the violation of patient-doctor confidentiality, as well as, the possible misuse of personal information by anonymous persons who may have access to the networks (Mehmet et al., 2004).
Interventional Surgery These include services like cameras mounted on probes or laser aided surgery (Plunkett, 2008). Probes have helped clinicians to, visually assess, the extent of damage to internal organs, most common being assessing the extent of gastric ulcers. Plunkett (2008) observes that laser aided surgeries have enabled surgeons to perform complicated surgeries, especially of the eyes and brain with precise accuracy, without making actual incisions.
Diagnostic equipment These include diagnostic equipment like digital mammography, Magnetic Resonance Imaging and digitized Molecular Imaging tools/equipment (Joseph, 2004).
  • These have enabled early and faster diagnosis of conditions like cancer, endocrine and genetic anomalies, as well as, monitoring drug efficacy during treatment (Joseph, 2004). This is by high definition imagery of affected tissues, glands and labelled nucleic acids.
  • Personal diagnostic sets like insulin monitors have reduced patient backlog in hospitals while the integration of EMR services among patients, pharmacists and doctors has enabled automatic scheduling and reminders of appointments, increasing convenience and giving concerned parties more time to attend to other businesses (Ciampa and Revels, 2012).
Scanning systems for biopharmaceuticals. These include a wide array of scanning and purification equipment like spectrophotometry and labelled Immunoassay kits (Plunkett, 2008). Plunkett (2008) states that these have enabled pharmaceutical companies to identify and purify active components in phytochemical product as well as in monitoring the drug efficacy. This has helped improve the safety and efficacy of drugs produced by biopharmaceutical companies.
Life support services. These include equipment that monitor vital signs especially during surgery, like Continuous electrocardiographs (ECG) and ventilators. Such equipment are also useful in saving the life of an incubated immature foetus or an invalid in a coma (Plunkett, 2008). Life support equipment enable surgeons to concentrate more on surgery by monitoring changes in vital signs for correction by concerned specialists in the operating room. Life support systems have helped reduce mortality rates in healthcare institutions (Ciampa and Revels, 2012).
  1. Increased demand for high quality of safety standards in healthcare have led to commissioning of more regulatory bodies in healthcare. According to Mehmet et al., (2004), the government has mandated these bodies to monitor professionalism of healthcare practitioners, and maintain the safety of drugs and other healthcare equipment, and these include the American Medical Association, and the Food and Drugs Administration. Ciampa and Revels (2012) also add that the need for an affordable healthcare plan led to the enactment of the Patient protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010, to offer subsidised healthcare and health insurance cover for all citizens. Finally, EMRs revolutionized healthcare by answering the need for real-time integration of healthcare professionals with patients, in order to improve the quality of healthcare services.
  2. Increased demand for safety is the single greatest driver of development in the healthcare industry. The main focus of Biopharmaceutical and Healthcare equipment-producing companies has been to increase product safety, in order to build consumer confidence, while at the same time, maintain a high standard of quality and efficacy in their products (Ciampa and Revels, 2012).

Conclusion

The use of Information Technology (IT) has significantly improved the quality of service offered by healthcare institutions. However, the high cost of integrating IT in healthcare as well as the high cost of maintaining the equipment threatens this achievement. This, therefore, calls for increased funding and development of technology that is affordable, yet does not compromise on the quality of service.

References

Ciampa, M., & Revels, M. (2012). Introduction to Healthcare Information Technology. Stamford, US: Cengage Learning, 2-13.

Joseph, F. (2004). Clinical Engineering Handbook. Waltham, Massachusetts, US: Academic Press, 136-145.

Mehmet, C., Putnam, T., & Vermeer, E. (2004). Evaluation of New Technologies by Hospitals and Other Healthcare Providers: Issues to Consider. Research in Healthcare Financial management, 9 (1), 49-57.

Plunkett, T. (2008). Plunkett’s Health Care Industry Almanac 2009 (E-Book): Health Care Industry Market Research, Statistics, Trends, and Learning Companies. Houston, TX : Plunkett Research Ltd.

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