IT for Improvement of Healthcare Sector – Health System Example

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"IT for Improvement of Healthcare Sector"  is an engrossing example of a paper on the health system. Information technology (IT) in modern society has become ubiquitous in virtually every sector, including healthcare.   The adoption of technology is apparent in the latter sector not just in the types of machines used to monitor patients’ vital signs or administer treatment, but also in ordinary care provision services like admission, billing and record maintenance systems, among others. These advantages of IT in healthcare explicitly prove this tool’ s vital nature in fostering the delivery of efficient care services and enhancing patients’ outcomes.

Despite the irrefutable benefits of IT in healthcare, this sector was among the last to adopt the technology. The sector is still lagging behind, as shown by the continued use of manual systems in records maintenance and clinical workflow management, among other crucial areas. This gap in IT usage in healthcare is accentuated by the fact that IT is allotted a meager 1.3% of the entire sector’ s expenditure on average.   In recognition of the fact that IT is an instrumental part of healthcare presently and in the future, this policy brief examines barriers to effective adoption of IT in healthcare and potent measures that could be adopted to change this development impeding inclination. Background Many investigative studies have evaluated the factors that prevent most hospitals and healthcare facilities, which constitute the healthcare sector, from adopting IT.

This failure to embrace technology is particularly rampant in public facilities, unlike private ones that have adequate funding to install requisite technologies. Key among these hurdles are outlined and discussed in the subsequent sub-sections. Organizational Barriers     According to Miller and West (2007), the greatest barriers implementation and successful use of an IT framework are linked to the healthcare organization itself.

For example, public hospitals cannot afford the cost associated with IT implementation, in terms of both software and hardware necessary to run their healthcare provision systems. This IT investment cost is relatively high for conventional hospitals and even higher for health facilities located in underdeveloped cities and small towns that lack thriving economies. Other organizations linked obstacles including costs linked to planning, training IT providers, requirement specifications, and customization of IT frameworks to suit hospital systems. Poorly Skilled Human Resources Johnson (2001) emphasizes that employees make up a firm’ s most significant asset in its effort to attain projected success.

The same applies to hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Following the widespread introduction of intricate and swiftly evolving technology, hospitals among other firms are often limited by a shortage of workers, adequately skilled and experienced in IT. Technological Challenges It is irrefutable that IT use has largely overcome obstacles like space, geographical distance, and time. This is evident from the enhanced efficiency and diversity of available healthcare services.

However, the same technology presents its distinctive challenges including difficulty to use, possible incompatibility with hospital systems, and issues with security of patients’ information hence privacy concerns. Thesis Statement With effective design and implementation, while accounting for diverse hurdles, IT can enhance access of hospitals to far-off patients, facilitate data storage, analysis, and management, provide necessary work support for healthcare practitioners, and improve the overall delivery of healthcare services.     Supporting Statements The greater the functioning capacity of a hospital IT system, the higher the hospital’ s ability to deliver care services in an efficient manner.

This is a notion emphasized by Zakaria and Yusof (2001), who points out that a comprehensive hospital IT system would enable the respective facility to improve the conveyance of health information likely to affect the public and facilitate debate on how different sector stakeholders can contribute towards dealing with potential health threats.   The scholars are also emphatic that IT allows patients from far to consult with qualified physicians, hence efficient disease diagnosis and consequent treatment via telemedicine. This practice, supported by IT is not only time saving, but also cost-efficient. In further support of the importance of IT systems in hospitals, Kaplan and Harris-Salamone (2009), denote that IT facilitates cooperation and collaboration among practitioners in the field of healthcare.

This includes sharing training and learning approaches. In addition, the authors stress the fact that IT supports more efficient research in health, coupled with instantaneous access to research results. These are practices that support evidence-based practice (EBP), which is essentially a prerequisite in the contemporary healthcare sector. It is also important to note that, IT strengthens the health care sector’ s capacity to monitor the occurrence of threats and consequently respond in a swift and successful manner.

Enhanced efficiency of management in health facilities cannot be overlooked, as a primary IT benefit. The preceding IT benefits all translate into saving lives and resources utilized in the provision of healthcare services. These gains can, however, not be achieved if the health care sector and constituent facilities or hospitals do not overcome previously discussed hurdles. In regard to human resources and technology concerns, for example, players in the healthcare industry must select, recruit and strive to retain experts in IT.   This translates into savings in lives and resources and direct improvements in people’ s health.

These experts would not only aid in advocating for and implementing necessary technological transformations, but they will also train other employees and serve as liaisons between IT users and administration (Zakaria & Mohd Yusof, 2001). Another important consideration would be to create a strong healthcare culture, which supports technological change. Within such an environment, it would be easier to adopt and implement IT unlike in places where staff members and other partisans are opposed to technology.

Diverse hospitals and healthcare providing facilities must strive to consistently train technology users at all ranks of the organizational structure, from executive-level officers and lower managers to ordinary staff members. Healthcare professionals must also be encouraged to embrace technology owing to its immense potential in improving medical services. Training in IT is essential at all transitional phases since it equips users with the skills and expertise to utilize it in guaranteeing efficient service delivery (Kaplan & Harris-Salamone, 2009).   On matters of IT investment, different players must make concerted efforts to conduct research on IT and its importance, while conveying the latter, and campaigning for IT funding from the government, as well as, potential donors. Conclusion Prior research proves beyond doubt that, IT is vital to the development of the healthcare sector through the enhanced practice of medical practitioners, coupled with improved information dissemination and administrative responsibilities.

IT in healthcare can further, play a significant role in improving care delivery, improving the public’ s general health, and lowering costs incurred by various health facilities. Adoption of IT will also aid in the identification of patients at high risk while equipping them and their respective caregivers with tools necessary for self-management and disease mitigation.

Other notable opportunities presented by IT in healthcare include improvement of predictive analytics and patient engagement, which will further bolster patient outcomes and hospital improvement. Partisans in the healthcare sector should persist in monitoring pioneering technologies and their users, in order to capitalize on the benefits of IT in the field.

References

Johnson, K. (2001). Barriers That Impede the Adoption of Pediatric Information Technology. Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine, 155, 1374-1379.

Kaplan, B. & Harris-Salamone, K. (2009). Health IT success and failure: Recommendations from literature and AMIA workshop. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association 16(3): 291-299.

Miller, R. & West, C. (2007).The value of electronic health records in community health centers: Policy implications. Health Affairs, 26(1), 206–214.

Zakaria, N. & Mohd Yusof, S. (2001). The role of human and organizational culture in the context of technological change. In proceedings of IEMC-Change Management and the New Industrial Revolution. Retrieved from http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/login.jsp?tp=&arnumber=960485&url=http%3A%2F%2Fieeexplore.ieee.org%2Fxpls%2Fabs_all.jsp%3Farnumber%3D960485

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