The paper “ Multifunctionality of Information Technology in Healthcare - Benefits for Healthcare Professionals and Patients" is an excellent example of a term paper on health sciences & medicine. A high number of Americans are highly hopeful that health information technology (HIT) will have positive effects not only on the lives of the patients but the doctors as well. Whereas doctors could use HIT to minimize medical errors, hospital registry and secretaries can use HIT systems to effectively save, access and share relevant patient’ s information. Furthermore, hospitals, companies, and governments could also save large amounts of money due to improved efficiency.
In fact, researchers from RAND Corporation pointed out that a full application of HIT systems could result in an annual efficiency savings of up to $77 billion (2005). However, due to various reasons, the majority of health care providers are yet to fully adopt the HIT systems. In fact, there has been wide speculation that the implementation of HIT systems could even hamper patient care (Anderson et al. , 2006). For this reason, it is of great importance to assess the impact of HIT on the quality of patient care.
Basically, HIT incorporates a wide range of new technological systems designed to manage a patient’ s health-related information. Essentially, HIT systems electronically collect, organizes and stores information pertaining to the patient’ s health thus leading to effective coordination of healthcare. The systems used to store this information are widely known as Electronic Health Records (EHR), although a few people refer to them as Electronic Medical Records (EMR). Basically, these systems come in different sizes and shapes, depending on their core functions. For instance, whereas some EHR systems only collect and store data within a certain institution, others are integrated thus allowing them to not only collect and store data but to also supply the patient’ s data across various medical facilities upon request (Blumenthal & Glaser, 2007).
This factor has largely facilitated the reduction of medical errors since health practitioners have the ability to access the patient’ s past medical data before carrying out an examination. Equally important, the Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE), is an imperative system that can be used in the general improvement of patient care.
Generally, this system enables health practitioners such as doctors and pharmacists to digitally carry out laboratory tests as well as order drug prescription electronically, factors that have largely resulted to reduced medical errors emanating from illegible hand-written prescriptions. In addition, the CPOE systems have the ability to flag off any prescriptions or orders that seem to be quite extreme thus eliminating chances of wrong prescriptions. To illustrate, a report by Bates et al. points out that the CPOE systems were able to reduce unnecessary medical errors by up to 55 percent since the system ensures that at least, the prescribed orders are legible and complete (2007).
This HIT system has therefore played a huge role in the improvement of the general quality of patient care. The above diagram adapted from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) website can be used to show how HER systems integrate patients’ data in different departments within a hospital. Despite the discussed benefits of HIT systems towards the improvement in the quality of patient care, a huge percentage of patients’ data and information still remains written on paper rather than on the electronic systems.
Fundamentally, this can be due to several factors such as high costs of the systems, complexity in operating the systems and the speculation that HIT can hamper patient care. It is thus important for the government and other key stakeholders to ensure that all health care facilities acquire these systems. For instance, the government can fund hospitals to acquire these systems or urge companies producing these systems to reduce the prices through acts such as providing tax reliefs to them.
Furthermore, the nursing curriculum should incorporate an educative framework on how to use the system as well as inform the nurses on the importance of these systems towards the quality improvement of patient care. Therefore, although there may be many debates on whether the use of HIT systems will improve the general health and quality of patient care, it is beyond doubt that the adoption of these systems by hospitals is a major step towards effective healthcare. In the past, these systems have proved themselves to be of importance more so when it comes to the general improvement of the patients’ health.
For instance, during tragedies such as Hurricane Katrina and Haiti earthquake, patient’ s records that were saved electronically using HIT systems were easily accessible, whereas those that were saved on paper were immensely destroyed. It is therefore important that all health care facilities adopt the use of HIT systems in order to improve the overall quality of patient care.